Will Palestinians ever ‘seize their destiny’ … and stop running head-on into...

Will Palestinians ever ‘seize their destiny’ … and stop running head-on into a brick wall?


“When was the last time five ambassadors were summoned to hear harsh criticism? I don’t remember such a thing ever happening.” Israeli Official
Some commentators have been saying that Israel's latest land-grab has effectively killed off the two-state solution (if such a thing was ever truly feasible). And this has led to questions like, what should the Palestinians do next?


by Stuart Littlewood

Palestinians must have been asking themselves the same thing for the last 64 years. They themselves are well acquainted with their rights and the crimes committed against them. They know what they must defend to the last. They also know – and if they don't they must figure it out quickly – what to do next in order to secure those rights.

More than 4 years ago I came across a report entitled 'Regaining the Initiative – Palestinian Strategic Options to End Israeli Occupation' by the Palestine Strategy Group, which shows that at least some of them had answer.

Sam Bahour is a business development consultant living in Ramallah. He frequently provides independent commentary on Palestine and serves as a policy adviser of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. He blogs at www.epalestine.com
The document "reflects an alternative to an official but impotent Palestinian discourse that will very shortly, in the judgment of most Palestinians, run head-on into a brick wall."  That was the view expressed by Sam Bahour, a Palestinian entrepreneur and one of 45 politicians, academics, business people and others who participated in the study.

They set out a number of tasks for the Palestinians if they were to bring the sterile 'peace' negotiations of that time to an end and re-focus efforts towards achieving the Palestinian dream. The study was funded by the EU but never given much publicity. I wonder how many EU ministers read it and how many activists, sympathisers and supporters around the world even knew of its existence?

The report’s main message urged Palestinians "to seize their destiny in their own hands” by refusing to enter into peace negotiations unless the international community first dealt with issues relating to national self-determination, liberation from occupation, individual and collective rights, and enforced international law. Only when these priorities were recognised and actioned could peacemaking and state-building rise to the top of the agenda.

It was important that, from now on, they made sure it was the Palestinian discourse that framed international discussion of the Palestinian future. They needed to emphasise that it was not Palestinians who lacked commitment to a negotiated outcome, but Israel. Palestinians had persisted for twenty years (up to that point) with their historic offer of 1988. The Israelis refused to honour it so their squeals of protest were simply not valid.

The report also spelled out the need for national unity: "Palestinian strategic action is impossible if the Palestinian nation is unable to speak with one voice or to act with one will." Of course, the relentless pressures of occupation and out-and-out bribery by troublemakers like the US were designed to cause internal strife, but so what?

Reading this report by the Palestine Strategy Group (or the Oxford Research Group – it isn't clear who was ultimately responsible) is hard going. They would have done better to turn it into a much more user-friendly publication.  It said "the essence of the Palestinian problem is not recognised", but one had to wade through 52 pages, 16,500 words and even 5 pages of summary to get to the point. Churchill’s advice immediately sprang to mind: “When you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile-driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.”

Will Palestinians ever 'seize their destiny' ...

This is where the Palestine Strategy Group seems to have fallen down. Their view has been ignored because it was never put across effectively. However, it makes good sense. The PLO must indeed "seize their destiny", sign up to the Rome Statute and join the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. As I suggested in an earlier article, when they won the UN vote upgrading their status they should have had all the paperwork ready and wasted no time laying charges against Israel for its illegal occupation, blockade, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

When they eventually get around to it, that will put the international community in a tight spot and rightly so. It has shirked its duty for much too long. A lasting peace requires justice, and that means an end to the illegal occupation and full respect for the Palestinians' right to self-determination. These things are not negotiable. They are not matters to be haggled over like the purchase of a used car – they are international obligations already determined by UN resolutions and international law. And they are waiting to be enforced. For their part the Palestinians are perfectly entitled to engage the agencies responsible for the rule of law and resist being bullied again into bogus 'peace talks'.

But just because Abbas at the UN finally did something bold and positive doesn't mean his sins of appeasement and collaboration with the enemy over the years are cancelled out. He strikes few people as the leader Palestinians deserve. I'd also like to see the PLO immediately send Hanan Ashrawi on a speaking tour of the West. She is the most articulate spokesperson the Palestinians have, and her knowledge and experience should not be wasted at this critical moment.

Hamas Political Leader Khaled Meshal addresses a rally in Gaza City on Friday, Dec. 8, 2012.
Hamas too are a disappointment. They could and should have re-drafted their Charter in diplomatic language more fitting to a civilised party of government.  While they are every bit as entitled to self-defence as the Israelis, the firing of unguided rockets is not a truly defensive act and if they continue armed resistance

I suspect supporters would like to see them concentrate more on anti-aircraft, anti-tank, anti-warship and anti-troop weaponry.

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal, addressing the crowds in Gaza on the 25th anniversary rally, repeated the usual refrain (which is a good one): "Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the north to the south. It is our land and our right, it is our nation, no concession on an inch or part of it… Resistance is the means not the end … for 64 years we have tried all other options but to no avail… We do not fight Jews because they are Jews, but we fight Zionists because they are occupiers and abusers."

As for unity, that might come with positive action.

However, the hard truth is that Palestinians of both factions (Hamas and Fateh), no matter how unified, will never succeed in re-framing the international discussion and “seizing their destiny” unless they undergo a crash course in media skills. The collaborators among them no doubt will be under instructions from their puppet-masters not to. But there’s no excuse for the rest. It is something they have to do if they are to stand any chance of winning.

©  Stuart Littlewood

Visit: www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk

Also see

Hanan Ashrawi, the Secretary General of the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy presents her case for an independent Palestinian state and offers insight into establishing peace in the Middle East in the first of the 2004-2005 Joan B. Kroc Distinguished Lecture Series sponsored by the Institute for Peace & Justice at the University of San Diego.

Hanan Ashrawi: Concept, Context and Process in Peacemaking:

The Palestinian-Israeli Experience 11/4/04



PLO executive committee clarifies statehood bid



Palestine at the Crossroads and in Context



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Stuart Littlewood's articles are published widely on the web. He is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk "Lawlessness must have painful consequences for the lawless, not their victims." (Stuart Littlewood)


  1. I agree in the aspect of stamping in the salate, and somehow both sides is making missery to their agenda, this leads nowhere.
    And only feeds the Status Quo, the very aspect of my hammering is that, to alter the Status Quo, in any way, but once again, ut drowns in shortime political gains, on BOTH sides, no exeptions and hidden behind retorical drivell and camuflaged as exused, and to inflict More violence, ON BOTH sides, by that I mean also in the Palestinian camp.
    To be frank, its a f… descrase, no matter how justifyed they may be, this corrent path leads Nowhere, prof, huh, 70 years is prof anouf, for me. And the retoric and dogmas, in the present goverments involved are not in anyway near a peacefull solution, that alone makes me wounder, why the passivity, where is the NOIZE, I want to be able to go outside, on my garden, op in the norhpole, to hear you, be angry, be loud and proud.
    I can only urge, the moderate and the reality seaking humans to engange them selfs, before its to late, before the reasent escalations goes out of hands, anything like that will just damage the cause of the Palestinian people.
    The only way is unity, reconsiliations and unity, in the end, you are all of the same people, live in the same area, and hopefully, continue to live in that area. I will never wisit You, unless I can unconditionaly, vissit Gaza/WB and Jerusalem, as a histroy intressed person, a must see, before  my  life switch is flipped.
    Peace benefits all, war benefits just some.

  2. There is no doubt that the leaders of the factions in Palestine, exploited to their disadvantage by Netanyahu in so many ways, need to come to the realisation that they have an amazing level of support, people who have made their life careers out of making others aware of the failings of the Clinton charade, the lie that was the "honest broker" syndrome, all regular mouthings by the absurdly biased Ms Clinton over a very long time indeed. As well, the overall hypocrisy of the US, now on show for all to see.
    Pressure should be brought to bear on all such Palestinian  'leaders' to develop an immediate strategy to provide a united front to the world outside. One almost feels from the writings we see daly that the world is waiting for such an initiative, that they want this matter to be resolved for the sake of Palestine and not on the conditions set by  Israel.
    It is the opinion of many that utising the intelligence of Hanan Ashrawi as the voice of Palestine to the European community as suggested in this article by Stuart, would be a most acceptable first step. This block is important, representing as they do the geographical background to most of the residents in Israel today. They have credibility and have already shown since the UN vote that they are demanding answers from Israel. A new development.
    The US on the other hand really has becomes a bit player in this picture, their credibility having been used up years ago and with the present administration in reactive mode, thereby not in any way having the will or support to lead from the front. They serve one important role however and that is to be encouraged to have their status changed from the subservient Israeli benefactor banker, a provider of weapons, funding for agencies like Mossad, aircraft to scatter white phosphorous over Gaza at will, to one that aims for a greater role by being genuine, perhaps for the first time since Carter. The respect they could gain in this pursuit would be immeasurable. All they need is a Congress that doesn't dance to the Israei tune. However, yet again, the UN vote showed them for what they are.
    Wishful thinking? Perhaps. Right now support from any financially bankrupt European country would be almost as important as the US. A vote is a vote is a vote. What a come down for the big bully, brandishing their Security Council veto around like a weapon, which of course it has been used as for decades……… in Israel's favour. Anyone care to list the UN Resolutions that Israel has ignored thanks to big brother. What a different world it would have been without that veto. It beggars one's imagination.
    Finally, the support that Palestine has through the writers on the web is a great strength. They should all be ecouraged to contribute to ideas to produce a consensus document on which Palestinians can not only vote but which can be implemented quickly while the climate is right for a move to real independence, free from the occupation of a foreign state who, in my opinion, have now lost the initiative and who have come in the past week to realise, finally, that Eretz Israel will never happen. It was never going to happen.
    They just have to learn to live with it, and soon. Removing the arrogant Netanyahu as the leader with his warlike stance would be a great first step in January. There must be literally thousands of Jewish citizens in Israel that want that to happen more than anything else. However, knowing the number of pseudo-Americans located in the US as 'US citizens', still having a vote in Israel, an anomaly if ever there was one, the likes of Liebeman, Schumer, Cantor, Americans of convenience, they will always see the Netanyahus and Liebermans of Israel the best suited to do their bidding which last week was to invade Iran.
    This week, who knows. Iran seems safe to me. The  state of israel have their hands full at the moment. Can't see that changing at all
    It does feel good.