50 years of Palestinian resistance

50 years of Palestinian resistance
6 min read
28 Dec, 2014
The disastrous 1967 war and apathy of Arab leaders has seen a new political landscape emerge in the Arab world. It is now time for Palestine to seize the initiative and bring Israel to justice.
Arab nationalism has given way to Palestinian resistance [AFP-Getty]

At the start of 1965, Yasser Arafat and his comrades announced that launch of the Palestinian resistance, tasked with the liberation of Palestine, the right to return and the right to Palestinian national self-determination. Two years later the aggression of 1967 took place, which resulted in the occupation of land in Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

The [Israeli]  aggression was a huge shock to Arab masses that were in a state of mobilisation under the leadership of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had kindled hopes of achieving Arab unity. On 21 March 1968, the Battle of Karameh took place, in which the Palestinian resistance demonstrated heroic defiance that softened the feeling of defeat and signaled the resumption of the fight against Israeli occupation and aggression.

New Palestinian nationalism

Before the 1967 aggression, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser was hugely popular in the Arab world, but following the Battle of Karameh, between Israeli and Palestinian forces, support for the Egyptian leader remained but the masses also looked to the leadership of the domestic Palestinian resistance for inspiration.

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) took charge of nationalist mobilisation at the time, along with other Palestinian factions particularly the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). Although Iraq and Syria creating the Arab Liberation Front and al-Saiqa, Fatah remained the main component of the resistance.

The PLO at the time was the unifying representative body of the Palestinians with the aim of confronting historic injustices against their people, and to resist Israel and its aggression. In 1974, the Arab League summit in Rabat passed a resolution declaring the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. In other words, it gave Palestinians the right to make their own decisions that were supported by Arab states.

Although the PLO was able to gain the support of Arab governments, the movements also strengthened the notion of national sovereignty among Arab countries and weakened Arab nationalist nations. 

This caused a huge shock among people in the Arab states and shaped a new political landscape, as seen when Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat visited Israel and signed the Camp David Accords with Israel in 1978, signaling peace between the two countries. It was an indicator of the supremacy of national interests over considerations for Arab nationalism.

The Arab masses were and remain supportive of the Palestinian people and their struggle, however the PLO now follows a diplomatic route that largely echoes Sadat's famous statement that 99 percent of the cards are in the hands of the Americans. This explains why the PLO engages in futile actions such as negotiations, since these talks supposed to be based on an agreed objective, which is the two state solution.

However, Israel has not agreed that negotiations will result in two states with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. What further complicates matters is that Israel that since the 1967 invasion of the West Bank, Israel has never admitted to being an occupying force, because if it does, it will be bound by the fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the occupying country from changing the geographic and demographic nature of territories under its force.

After Hamas gained majority control of Gaza, Israel considers the coastal strip to be a "belligerent entity", which explains the ferocity of Israeli violations in the three wars against the people of the territory. It also explains the forceful Israeli objections to the national reconciliation government of Rami Hamdallah, between Hamas and Fatah. It is also notable that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbad has not visited Gaza after the most recent Israeli assault on the land strip.

Uneven negotiations

It is apparent that not specifying the legal status of the West Bank and continuing to describe it as "occupied" strips it of real status. It is land that has been usurped by Israel with Jewish settlements built across the area as if their legality is a given.

When the White House criticised settlement building in East Jerusalem, Benjamin Netanyahu described the criticism as "un-American". Further, the Israeli minister of defense, Moshe Yaalon mockingly objected to the formation of the Palestinian state, saying, "They can call it the new Palestinian empire if they want". When the European Court reversed the designation of Hamas as a terrorist organisation, Israeli minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "It seems that too many in Europe, on whose soil six million Jews were slaughtered, have learned nothing."

     Palestinian refugees are refused the right to return to their land while Jews have the right to move to Israel.

In the past few weeks the Palestinian delegation to the UN submitted a draft resolution to recognise Palestinian statehood, supported by Arab states, and it was expected that the US would use its veto against the resolution. So, Palestinians officials contacted European countries to amend the resolution in a way that would meet US approval, despite the changes weakening their national demands. However, that too was not agreeable to Washington, who proposed the resolution be postponed until after the Israeli elections.

Meanwhile, in a speech at the Saban Forum in Washington, Netanyahu complained that Palestinians refuse to discuss the legitimacy of Israeli security and that his country is the national homeland of the Jewish people, while they demand that Israel recognise Palestine as the state of the Palestinian people.

It is important to note that there are six or seven million Palestinians, while Jews around the world far exceed that number. Additionally, Palestinian refugees are refused the right to return to their land while Jews have the right to move to Israel. This is one of the issues that has caused John Kerry’s mediation attempts to fail.

Legitimate Fight

At the moment, the roles of the PLO, the Palestinian Authority and the national unity government are ambiguous. For example, who is the main negotiator? Is it Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator or the foreign minister? What is the National Authority and what is its relationship with the unity government?

I believe it is time for the Palestinian cause to exit the state of unresolvedness and for the Palestinian Authority and government to head to the International Criminal Court to have Israel tried for its violations of international law.

The authority should also utilise its right to join UN bodies to secure the national and legal rights of Palestine. Talks, the road map and so-called negotiations are futile exercises, and it is time for the Palestinian leadership to exit from the prison of indecision after 50 years.

The Arab World is in dire need for Palestine to regain its prominent position because that would restore cohesion among Arab peoples and states, as Palestine is the compass that is able to lead the region out of its crises of disintegration.      

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.