Reprinted from Middle East Eye
Waiting on Israeli society to change from within is a colossal waste of time, during which the suffering of an entire nation -- torn between an occupied home and a harsh diaspora -- will not cease. But what are Palestinians and the supporters of a just peace in Palestine and Israel to do? Plenty.
Those who counted on some sort of a miracle to emerge from the outcome of the recent Israeli elections have only themselves to blame. Neither logic nor numbers were on their side, nor the long history laden with disappointing experiences of "leftist" Israelis unleashing wars and cementing occupation. Despite a few differences between Israel's right and the so-called left on internal matters, their positions are almost identical regarding all major issues related to Palestine. These include the Right of Return and the status of occupied Jerusalem to the illegal settlements.
Equally important, most sectors of Israel's political classes that are dominated by Zionist Jews are also in concord regarding the status of Israel's Palestinian Arab population (1948 Palestinians). Don't let the racist fearmongering of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- terrifying Israeli Jews of Arabs voting in "droves" -- blind you to the fact that the Zionist Labor bloc is equally racist, although, in a less vulgar fashion.
But Palestinians are not without options. Sure, the odds against them are great, but such is the fate of the oppressed as they are left between two options: either a perpetual fight for justice or unending humiliation and servitude.
First, the most difficult obstacle to overcome is the stronghold of Mahmoud Abbas and his corrupt circle on Palestine's political discourse at home. This is not an outcome of Abbas's particular savvy or the genius of his class. The post-Oslo circle only exists to maintain the status quo: US interests and involvement as a mediator in the conflict, Israel's security -- thus the constant crackdown on Palestinian opposition and resistance -- and ensuring that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has a reason to exist for the sake of ensuring the many privileges that come with the job.
This whole apparatus must be overcome and eventually removed entirely from the Palestinian body politic if Palestinians are to have any chance at formulating an alternative strategy.2. Factionalism must be defeated, crushed
But for that to take place, the very ailments that have afflicted Palestinian society for years, leading to the creation of the ineffectual PA in the first place, would have to be confronted head on. One such condition is factionalism, which has to be overpowered by a collective that defines itself first and foremost as Palestinian.
Factionalism, in its current form, has destroyed much of the social fabric of Palestine. It has divided the already divided people into fragments making them easy to be controlled, manipulated, suppressed -- and when necessary -- besieged. Sixty-seven years are just too long a period for a nation that lives mostly in exile, trapped or confined behind walls, to sustain its political identity and remain unified around the same "constants" without proper leadership.
Yet somehow many Palestinians persisted, insisting on one Palestine, one people, one identity, one goal. For these energies to be streamlined into a meaningful push against Israeli colonial designs, factionalism would have to be put to rest. Additionally, the Palestinian flag must occupy every public place currently occupied by red, yellow, green or any other factional colour or symbol.3. But the transition must be smooth
Such seismic change cannot come easily. It must be gradual and part of a national initiative. It must be a conversation that brings friends and rivals not to divide material perks, useless "ministries" and worthless "government" posts, but rather to mend the broken unanimity that once existed. In fact, once upon a time, Palestinians were not united or disjointed around the frivolous "peace process," but instead around "national constants," where the Right of Return took central stage.
The transition from disunity and chaos into something visionary and not confined by short-term political interests, must be smooth, calculated and led by respected Palestinian figures, not those with hands soiled by blood and corruption.4. Right of return must be brought back to centre of discourse
One major issue that must dominate the new political discourse is the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees, guaranteed by international law. The issue is not only essential in its centrality in the lives of millions of Palestinians suffering in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, but is also essential to any sensible understanding of the conflict and its resolution.
The struggle in Palestine doesn't date back to the war of 1967, but the Zionist takeover of Palestine between 1947-48 that resulted in nearly a million refugees, the expropriation of their land, homes, rights and the attempt at erasing any evidence of their existence.
By marginalising the Right of Return, one diminishes the very roots of the conflict, and any serious attempt at reconciling the painful past with the equally agonising present.5. Palestine 48 must be fully incorporated into national agenda
Not all Palestinians became refugees. Some remained in Palestine as it was being transferred to some other entity before their own eyes.