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Daoud Kuttab

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Palestinians Mulling Post UN Vote Strategies

Posted: 11/08/11 09:45 AM ET

If the UN bid for Palestinian statehood has shown anything, it has reminded Palestinians of who their real friends are. It was clear, despite Obama's earlier rhetoric that US would not move any direction that would upset the Israelis. But it was not only Washington and their British poodles (Tony Blair in the quartet and Cameron in Downing Street), even the French are not as close to being the true friends of Palestine as they would like to be seen. Sure Sarkozy wants to keep French business ties with the Arab world, so he looks for photo opportunities with the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. But when it comes to the true test of French-Palestinian friendship, the French aren't fulfilling their part. Early information from the Security Council debates have indicated that the French will abstain despite voting in favor at the UNESCO vote, at which the US has no veto.

While the UN bid exposed the hypocrisy of the west, it marked the end of two important phases. Going to the UN marked the total failure of the negotiating process that began two decades earlier in Madrid and was followed by the Oslo Accords. The failure at the Security Council exposes the impotence of the international community.

Mahmoud Abbas has asked his top advisors to come up with a post-UN strategy. To the disappointment of some, the new strategy will not contain the option of dissolving the Palestinian National Authority. The idea has been debated a lot but has never gotten much traction. Repeated as late as a few weeks ago by senior PLO official Saeb Erekat, the idea calls for dissolving the PA and throwing the keys to the Israelis. Proponents of the idea feel it will change the paradigm by forcing the Israelis to pay (literally and figuratively) for continuing the occupation. While the theory sounds good, such an idea will have disastrous effects on Palestinians. It will reverse accomplishment institutional state building gains made in the past two decades. Ramallah officials are agreed on at least this part.

What Palestinians can and need to do is look inwards. A nation fighting for recognition against the odds of a foreign military occupation that is supported by the world's leading powers can't afford to be divided. Important steps have been taken when Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Mashaal signed the reconciliation agreement in Cairo last summer. The agreement now needs to be implanted. An agreed upon unity government must be formed and preparations for local, parliamentary and presidential elections need to take place as soon as possible.

A national strategy for liberation must be debated agreed upon and implemented. Agreement on a resistance strategy should be possible now that the path of negotiations and internationalization have failed. The term resistance can have different meanings. Some might translate the term to mean violent resistance while others will argue that you can have popular nonviolent resistance. If the latter is agreed upon, it will require a concerted unified effort to make it work. Massive popular actions are required to drive home the message of a people tired of a four decade occupation. Focus of such action will most definitely need to be on developing the West Bank areas under total Israeli administrative and security control referred to as area C. At the same time every possible nonviolent way must be exercised to ensure that no more settlements are built in Palestinian lands.

At the same time of a local comprehensive popular resistance, an international campaign of boycotts and divestment of the Israeli occupiers will need to be stepped up. Once united, Palestinians of all colors must join forced with many solidarity groups to enact a world-wide campaign against Israel. The once invisible white government of south Africa was brought down as a result of such an international campaign. The large number of countries supporting Palestinian statehood and large grassroots organizations in countries that have not should produce a powerful message against the continuation of the Israeli occupation and settlement activities.

The Palestinian leadership has shown resolve and commitment to fulfilling its people's desire for liberation.

Mahmoud Abass has surprised many people in his determination against tremendous pressures. Neither political nor financial pressures worked against Palestinians surprising many world leaders and exposing them for their weakness at standing up to the Israelis despite publicly disagreeing with the Netanyahu government. This fortitude should be built on in any future strategy. American tactics and temporary denial of supporting Palestinians has backfired. Washington's leverage has been greatly reduced after this incident even though the US congress has recently indicated it will fulfill previous commitment made to the people of Palestine. Palestinians need now to depend on themselves and their true friends in order to reach the ultimate goal of an independent Palestinian state alongside side Israel.

 

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