by Paul Gadalla
Rai Insights Contributor
Beirut: Now, more than ever, Palestinians must rise up in a third intifada. Decades of stalled negotiations have only resulted in expanded settlements and deteriorating socio-economic conditions for Palestinians. It is time once again that Palestinians unite in a show of solidarity to make their voices heard against the continuing Zionist occupation.
History has proved that the last two intifadas were the only events that brought the Israelis to the negotiating table with Palestinian leadership. For years the media portrayed the need for peace. Agreements and political concessions could be hammered out such as what happened with India and Pakistan or Greece and Turkey. Indeed the world thought that 1993’s Oslo Accords would usher in the peace people wanted to see.
And ultimately the Oslo Accords failed as Israeli settlements continued and Palestinians are now literally walled in by Israel’s absurd security fence. Subsequent conservative Israeli governments have only sought to scupper any hopes of the Oslo Accords being fully implemented and spurned peace plans from Arab states. Ultimately there have been no real tangible signs from Israel that they would allow a Palestinian state to be established.
And from this failure came the Second Intifada, which brought the Israelis back to the negotiating table after much bloodshed. And once again a blue print for peace was drawn up and failed. Hamas, a major Palestinian faction has been excluded from major talks. And to make matters worse, infighting between Fatah and Hamas only weakened the Palestinian position. Fatah more or less has been co-opted by Israel while Hamas remains hemmed in in Gaza.
The socio-economic situation for Palestinians is deplorable. Settlements have increased as have demolitions of Palestinian homes. Over 400,000 Israelis live in the West Bank alone in illegal settlements. Gaza remains shattered by two Israeli wars and Fatah in the West Bank mainly does as the Israeli government tells it. Scores of Palestinians must go through humiliating check points in order to find meager work in Israel while the Palestinian economy lies in ruins. Palestinians can also be detained and imprisoned without any charges or trials.
Already rage in the streets has been boiling over, much to the chagrin of the Palestinian Authority which has tried to placate Israeli fears and show they can govern. The tinder is already there as Israel has placed metal detectors around the sacred Al-Aqsa which has ignited heated protests in Jerusalem.
It is only a matter of time until protests spread across Palestinian territory. Palestinian youth are now showing they are above partisan politics and international dealings. They’re here to say that they will not allow deals between regional players to be made at their own expense. They will not let their holy sites be controlled by Israel and are challenging new checkpoints being erected.
What made previous intifadas successful is their sense of solidarity. It was not who was with Iran or Saudi Arabia. Palestinians en masse were fed up waiting for Arab armies to liberate them and instead took matters into their own hands to force the Israelis to take them seriously.
Indeed it was the First Intifada, which began in 1987 that brought the Palestinian plight to the international scene once again. It was not Egyptian or Jordanian armies, but Palestinians of all walks of life challenging Israeli occupation through a number of different means.
A third intifada is needed to bring social cohesion back to the Palestinian resistance and end infighting between pro and anti Iran factions. It would send a message to major regional players like Saudi Arabia and Turkey that the Palestinian cause cannot be sidelined in the hopes for trade deals with Israeli firms. A third intifada will bring Israel back to the negotiating table.
But this time Palestinians must push Israel to accept that settlements and demolitions can no longer continue. They must force Palestinian negotiators to demand a tangible roadmap that has teeth and redirect international attention back to the Palestinian cause. And it can also inspire many Arabs in the region to once again take up the Palestinian cause. Without a true intifada based on solidarity the Palestinian cause will continue to suffer while Israel will continue to its illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
*Paul Gadalla is a New York native communication specialist and aspiring political analyst based in Beirut, Lebanon