THE BLOG

Strategy for Palestine Still Missing Implementation Plan

The Palestinian strategy towards statehood is making significant progress among certain international political circles, but it is still lacking the necessary coordination and cohesion to bear the desired results.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have succeeded in detonating the usual anti-Palestinian arsenal that the Israeli hasbara (propaganda) has been used to fire against Palestinian aspirations. The rejection of the Palestinian leadership of any form of military resistance and the focus on building the infrastructure of the state rather than cursing the Israelis, has placed Israel in a difficult position internationally. However, it is unlikely that Palestinian statehood could be reached simply with this partial strategy.

It is sad to admit, but U.S. President Barack Obama is right about one thing. Going to the United Nations General Assembly and extracting a majority vote in this international body will not, by itself, end the Israeli occupation. A UN vote, however, could be key to statehood if it is part of a larger strategy. As of this moment, it does not appear that there is such a coherent and well-coordinated Palestinian strategy.

What should such a strategy contain?

Naturally, seeking national liberation requires a united internal front. The most prominent Palestinian factions have taken an important step in this direction by signing the reconciliation accords in Cairo a month ago, but it doesn't appear that there is a serious, continuous and concerted effort to unify the Palestinian people. Certainly there is no indication that the present effort is one that can unify the Palestinian people politically and strategically to the degree that they will be willing to take hard decisions requiring sacrifice in order to end the Israeli occupation.

If Palestinians can agree on the current political process that includes a stop at the UN General Assembly this coming fall, a question needs to be asked of the Palestinian leadership about its strategy on the day after a UN vote. What are the plans on the ground in Palestine to implement an international licence to statehood? Are the Palestinians in the occupied territories and around the world being mobilized to take concrete steps to turn this "UN licence" into a real sovereign state?

Once the Israelis reject the international will towards statehood and voluntarily exit the occupied territories, the Palestinian leadership must be ready to take steps to realize statehood on the ground. The Palestinian Authority will need to disengage from Israel at all levels. Does the Palestinian Authority have alternative plans once this disengagement takes place? Has the PA coordinated with nearby Arab countries to provide for goods and services once this disengagement takes place? Were the Palestinians prepared to bear the pains of such engagement?

During the first Palestinian Intifada, victory gardens were encouraged as Palestinians were trying to become self-sufficient while rejecting goods coming from Israel. A plan must be designed to "liberate" zones listed as area C, which Israel has direct administrative and security control over. This discriminatory division of Palestinian lands into areas A, B and C should be declared null and void once the Oslo Accords become obsolete with the upcoming UN decision. Maybe the PA should issue land deeds and give them out to any Palestinian willing to live, farm and stay put on lands that Israel continues to occupy.

No such preparation is taking place.

Furthermore, what about security disengagement? Has the issue of breaking up security coordination been studied? What are the alternative scenarios for the day after such disengagement? Will Abbas give orders to the security forces to defend the newly declared and recognized state?

Much more effort is also needed regionally. Will countries, and peoples in the neighboring countries, be asked to help Palestinian realise their statehood? Will Jordan and Egypt be asked to help provide essentials, such as fuel, electricity and basic food products? How will such materials be made available? Will the Palestinian leaders ask these neighboring Arab countries to secure the borders? Will other Arab countries be asked to help in this process?

Finally, what is the international strategy? The PA has been producing relatively good results in some countries, but this is being done almost entirely without strong and constant coordination with solidarity movements. Once Israel refuses the UN declaration of Palestinian statehood, these movements will be crucial to applying a crippling boycott and divestment campaign against Israel. The experience of the boycott of the apartheid South African regime after the UN vote needs to be replicated internationally.

Israel and its supporters might be able to pressure governments, and the U.S. Congress, but is unable to stop the vast people-based international support that needs to be garnered.

The realisation of Palestinian statehood needs a holistic internal, regional and international strategy. Such a strategy will require leadership, national unity and sacrifice.