Palestinians suffer from isolation of their own making

The Palestinian policies have so far been based on knee-jerk reactions rather than initiatives, and the Palestinian political system has continued to fall apart from the inside.
Saturday 21/11/2020
A Palestinian woman stands in middle of a road during a demonstration against Jewish settlements in the village Kafr Malik in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on November 20, 2020. AFP
A Palestinian woman stands in middle of a road during a demonstration against Jewish settlements in the village Kafr Malik in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on November 20, 2020. (AFP)

The Palestinians are now all alone. They have never been as isolated as they are today. And they won’t be able to break that isolation as long as it remains of their own making, while Israel remains the real beneficiary of that isolation.

Were they so passive over the past years to the point that no one wants to continue standing by them after they turned their just national cause into a set of fragmented lost causes that simply waste any kind of external support?

Pessimism had prevented them from seeing the fact that the world around them was changing, and that what they had to do was keep up with time and not just stand around waiting at a station no longer serviced, without realising it. Their cause is no longer what it used to be, and their enemy, too, has acquired new rights at their expense that no one can any longer force it to give up.

What is even more tragic is the reality that if, at some previous time, this enemy was willing and in need of dialoguing with them in order to convince the world of its good intentions, today it is no longer interested in doing so after losing some of its ability to convince the world of its desire for a peace based on mutual rights.

The capital of world sympathy that the Palestinians accumulated during decades of struggle, they have dilapidated over the recent years of internal divisions, as they chose to give priority to their internal differences over their national cause, since it is precisely having a unified position that would make dealing with them easy for international parties that sympathise with them and seek to bear with them the heavy burden of their cause.

Their worst mistake was believing that the position of others regarding their cause would be unwavering and will not change regardless of the damage they themselves inflicted on that cause through the fluctuation of their own political positions and their hopping from one camp to the next, in search of narrow and faltering benefits, leading them into useless mazes and exposing their cause to unfair questioning of its legitimacy.

Long-time Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi said once something like “our internal divisions are of no concern to others” but she forgot to indicate that it is actually those divisions that have scattered the Palestinians over the various camps of the region’s conflicts and prevented them from standing on the same ground that would guard them from falling into the pitfalls of those conflicts.

Hamas’s wanderings from one financial backer to the next is a stark example of that dispersion, but it is not alone in this respect as the other Palestinian parties behaved just as badly.

The internal Palestinian disagreements were reflected in the performance of all Palestinian parties; confusion and ambiguity prevailed. It has gotten to the point that it was no longer possible to pin point what these parties wanted on the level of the cause that is supposed to bring them together rather than divide them. Dealing with one party and not the other became embarrassing and even raised many suspicions. Therefore, many sympathisers of the Palestinian cause preferred not to get involved.

Thus, I can say that the Palestinians have created a difficult situation that is not attractive to the forces sympathetic to them. These forces also have their own problems; not to mention the state of despair that afflicted everyone due to the decline of the initiative spirit on the part of the Palestinian side, which has succumbed to the endless cycle of fruitless negotiations whose contents were kept so secret as if they were part of the secrets of the mother cause.

In the meantime, the reality on the ground was shocking.

The Palestinian policy has so far been based on knee-jerk reactions rather than initiatives, and the Palestinian political system continued to fall apart from the inside. The old slogans are no longer useful in presenting a clear picture of the cause like the one that existed before the Oslo Agreement. And even though that picture was far from being ideal, it was at least close enough to the cause of a people seeking to obtain their legitimate rights in their homeland.

Today, as the Palestinians denounce what others are doing, they do not pay attention to what they have done themselves and how much damage they caused to their cause, perhaps more severe than the harm caused by others.

This is a problem that the Palestinians may not give it the attention it deserves, but it is nevertheless an obstacle that prevents others from returning to their previous commitment. Time has moved on while the Palestinians are still standing in their same old spot, a spot out of everyone’s field of vision because it has nothing to do with the political present. That spot is part of a bygone past.