Stakeholders and Evolution of the Palestinian Issue

 

Photo source: The New Arab

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Upfront


The indiscriminate aerial bombings in Gaza in May 2021 marked the near terminal collapse of nearly three decades of flawed peacemaking in Palestine. The new attacks echoed what Gaza went through in 2008 and 2014 conflicts.

It had begun with the Oslo Accords, which did not bring any viable framework for peaceful co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians. After that, a two state solution was rallied for, which granted powers of governance to the Palestinian Authority, whose formal role became policing Palestine in the context of an unending occupation.


Repeated failures to revive negotiations for a two state solution have culminated in the so called ‘deal of the century’. Former President Donald Trump, in his hegemonic project, surrendered any pretension, for a moral standing under international law. It granted Israel an open license for land grabs, and colonial settlements. This deal of the century also ratified Oslo’s shaky foundation for peace, resulting in eventual abandonment of Palestinian statehood.


Interestingly, the new crises are not repeating the same history. It is also exposing a development. Both Israel and Hamas are fearing what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah, with the genesis of a new movement. This movement emphasis on a peaceful struggle than an armed struggle. It has emerged independently from Hamas in Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, providing a political reference for many Palestinians. The spirit of the Arab Spring also greatly influenced them. It was, in fact, this movement that indirectly reproduced the conflict of Israel with Hamas. With the result, the events happened in West Bank became more telling. Infact, in the whole of Palestine, as many believe, these kind of events were never happened since 1936. At the same time, there is also a higher degree of Israeli incarceration since the Second Intifada, with security forces detaining thousands of Palestinian demonstrators.


The Oslo Accords had turned the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) into a governing body, removing its previous designation as a ‘terrorist actor.’ But, Hamas gained from violence, as much as Israel did. When it came to Israel, not only Netanyahu, but even Benny Gantz, member of a liberal political alliance in Israel, sanctioned bombardment of Gaza. Hamas, on the other hand, wants to become a Palestinian version of Hezbollah.


There are several external political actors that benefit from this. Qatar and Turkey, who constitute a geopolitical axis that postures against the UAE-Saudi-Israeli axis, emerged early on as defenders of Palestine. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in particular, garnered acclaim across the Muslim world for his combative rhetoric against Israel, and his religious call to protect the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem from further assaults. The Emir of Qatar has also stepped into the role of protector of the Palestinian people.


Egypt and Jordan promptly, too, wanted to mediate a ceasefire. Jordan's actions are inevitable, given the difficult position of the Hashemite Kingdom. Its monarchy retains custodianship over the holy sites of Jerusalem, but the country also fears that it will be turned into an alternate Palestine. Egypt, under Sisi, wants to create a mediation in Palestine, without supporting any political party. It was something which was reminiscent of the Mubarak regime.


Western powers, like US, claim to be a mediator of peace, but once Israeli isolationism starts to fill its capacity, they halt UN Security Council discussions, and victimise itself for having to make hard choices.


United Arab Emirates, also wanted to mediate, and has an important card to play: Mohammad Dahlan. This politician retains a rivalry against Mahmoud Abbas, making him a target of Fatah. He, time and again, also criticises Hamas, and has a popular base in Gaza.


Hamas, it seems, have not joined the bandwagon with Iran, who dedicatedly support the Palestinian cause, politically. This failed political harmonisation is because of Palestine’s alliance with Sunni Arab groups. After-all, Hamas began its operations as a branch of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Hence, Iran, by not venturing out with military escalations through Hezbollah as a reaction against recent Gaza bombardments makes it clear that they are not exploiting Palestine’s geo-political interests. It maybe because of their efforts to renew the nuclear deal with the West,  which under new leadership of Raisi might actually become a bit harder. 


Many political analysts are of an opinion that elections can be a confidence building measure inside Palestinian territories for both Hamas and Fatah, as Palestinians are living in dire straits. But, both at the same time, don’t want to lose any territorial gains. Hamas fears losing Gaza to Fatah, and Fatah fears losing the West Bank to Hamas.


Elections may give the Palestinian people a crucial opportunity to connect with other major human rights struggles around the world, from Nelson Mandela to Black Lives Matter. It could also provide them with a legitimate government, which could serve as a representative to the world, and reactivate the possibility of a resolution.


The voice of the silent Palestine majority could break the political impasse. According to an Oped by Hicham Alaousi in The New Arab: ‘Elections could empower new voices on the Palestinian street, such as the youth activists and social movements that mobilised around Sheikh Jarrah, to replace the ageing elites that have ruled since Oslo. They could provide an indigenous alternative to future governance under a Hamas organisation that is turning into a Palestinian Hezbollah, or under a Fatah that remains a prisoner of its rent-seeking behaviour derived from its role as a proxy policeman for Palestine.’


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