Palestinians must heed effects of unfolding developments
The Middle East is going through important and fast-evolving developments that will change the picture that has characterised it for many years.
There are changes in countries on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean and events happening in distant countries that will affect the Middle East. These developments overshadow what is happening on the Palestinian-Israeli scene.
Where are we, us Palestinians, with respect to these developments?
Iran is in a state of internal and regional confusion and no one can say where it will end up. This is the same Iran that has long shown great interest in the Palestinian cause and has been cultivating close relations with some Palestinian factions, all within the context of its agenda with respect to the United States and Israel.
Some Palestinian forces are re-evaluating the scene in the region and are counting on changes in the rules of the game.
In a few months, the Israeli leadership crisis will be resolved by the victory of Binyamin Netanyahu and Likud or Benny Gantz and his Blue and White alliance. Both are connected with the foundations of Israeli policies considering security, settlement expansion and full control and are knowledgeable about the Palestinians, their goals, their security, their freedom and their economy.
A Blue and White government might stop seizing Palestinian land or building settlements but it will not return land that Netanyahu has stolen or the illegal settlements he’d already built.
Should Gantz form a new government, that government is not going to go easy on the Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip, because Israeli public opinion will support it depending on its ability to stop the rockets fired from Gaza at Israeli border towns and villages. This is exactly what the leaders of Blue and White, who, let’s not forget, all come from military backgrounds, vowed to address.
Regarding their own elections, the Palestinians are waiting for President Mahmoud Abbas to respond to Ismail Haniyeh’s message regarding the presidential and legislative vote. Haniyeh is the top Hamas official and both leaders and their movements dominate whatever is left of Palestinian land and have been negotiating about elections for more than a decade.
Hamas seems interested and engaged in negotiations with Israel, and not with the Fatah movement, to reach agreements on facilities, arrangements, ports and villages along the Gaza coast. No one can say whether the desired maritime expansion is going to be an addition to the Palestinian state that has received approval as appeared in the Oslo Accords or an extension of the Hamas emirate of Gaza.
There is a third election coming up that will have a tremendous effect on events and wars in the Middle East — the US presidential elections. Every four years during these elections, an auction is held for greater support for Israel, its military and its economy.
However, a surprise came this time from the US House of Representatives, without any effort or initiative on the Palestinian side. The House announced support for a two-state solution. Most previous American administrations supported this solution but the Trump administration ignored it. How can the Palestinians build on this development?
There are ominous signs of a regional war that could explode at any moment in the Mediterranean, south of the Greek part of Cyprus, between Turkish greed for oil, gas and hegemony on one side and Egypt, Greece and Cyprus, which claim sovereignty over the disputed waters, on the other.
Where will the Palestinians stand in this potential conflict that is very close to them and which is already dividing them? What would Hamas’s position be, knowing that the head of its political bureau recently went to Ankara on an official visit?
There are optimistic signs regarding reconciliation between the Arab Gulf countries with attempts being made to end disputes that have exhausted some of them. Will these efforts rub on the Palestinian parties, such as Fatah and Hamas, backed by Gulf countries?
In Iraq and Lebanon things are very quickly evolving. The situation in Lebanon is very serious for the Palestinians, since there are hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in Lebanon and they risk paying the price of escalating violence. Will Hamas jump to their protection through its close ties with Iran and Hezbollah or will Fatah go to their rescue based on its strong ties with most Gulf countries?
These issues will affect the Palestinian decision and require close attention and appropriate solutions but Palestinians seem oblivious to them and are taken by their attempts to reach a long-term agreement with Israel or by ascertaining the content of Hamas’s response to Abbas’s invitation to participate in elections.
The first step to empowering the Palestinians, achieving their legitimate goals and confronting the challenges that surround them, is to unite so the people become one, with a unified, elected leadership that reflects all shades of the Palestinian spectrum. This may sound difficult but it is not impossible.
The upcoming Palestinian elections are the last chance for the people to achieve their unity, strength and gain the world’s respect, otherwise we must bid a united and promising Palestine a permanent farewell.