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Hamas and Fatah - Why the Two Groups are Failing

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"In Gaza, we are more creative and flexible in our thinking because we have no other choice. We want to break out of this prison," he told Al Jazeera.

"My father worked for many years inside Israel. We are ready to live alongside Israeli Jews in peace they need to set aside their fears."

Nathan Thrall, a local analyst with the International Crisis Group, a conflict resolution organisation based in Washington and Brussels, pointed out that the Gaza protests were returning the Palestinian struggle to its historical roots.

"Even before the founding of the PLO, the central issue in Palestinian nationalism was the refugees - more so than the 1967 issue [of the occupation]," he told Al Jazeera.

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The right of the 750,000 Palestinians made refugees by the 1948 war and their descendants to return to their ancestral lands originally lay at the heart of the platforms of all the political parties," he said.

"The national movement slowly compromised on that."

Under the Oslo process launched in 1993, it was widely assumed that the refugees, if they returned at all, would move to a separate and minimal Palestinian state rather than their former towns and villages.

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"There was an intentional ambiguity: the leadership talked about the right of return at the same time as it promoted the two-state solution, even though the two principles appear contradictory," said Thrall.

But the Palestinians' historic compromise had turned into a dead-end.

"The two-state idea was never seen as ideal. No one marches for it or is prepared to sacrifice their life for it," he said.

"But that pragmatism has yielded no results and has led to great popular disenchantment. Now ordinary people are going back to the roots of the Palestinian issue."

That appears to return Palestinian nationalism to its original vision of a single state, as long propounded by the PLO under its leader Yasser Arafat.

He only accepted the partition of historical Palestine in the late 1980s, faced with overwhelming western pressure.

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"It is significant that there has been a steady increase in support for one state among the Palestinian public, now at around 30 percent," Buttu said.

"That is surprising, given that today, not one Palestinian party, in the West Bank and Gaza or the 48 areas [of Israel], publicly supports it."

Even Hamas, she said, had effectively followed Fatah and abandoned its traditional goal of Palestinian-Islamic rule over all of historical Palestine.

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

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