It’s Time for the Palestinians to Reshuffle the Deck

The Palestinian Authority could either dissolve itself and shoot for a one-state solution, or immediately call new elections and get rid of the corrupt old guard.

Salaman Masalha
Salman Masalha
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At Abbas' meeting with Israeli press in Ramallah. April 22, 2014.
At Abbas' meeting with Israeli press in Ramallah. April 22, 2014.Credit: Emil Salman
Salaman Masalha
Salman Masalha

The current situation in which everything hateful to the Jews they do unto others cannot continue. That line in the national anthem — “To be a free people in our land” — should resonate with Arabic melodies in Jewish ears.

The Jews, who just finished celebrating their Festival of Freedom, have to understand that freedom is the natural right of every person and every nation. Anyone who seeks it for himself cannot deny it to others. Anyone who denies another person or nation the right to freedom loses the moral right to demand it for himself.

Many months of “peace talks” overseen by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have failed to generate a breakthrough. Uncle Sam went home empty-handed; it seems he’s beginning to despair. He’s not the only one. This despair is paralyzing us all, Arabs and Jews alike, in the Promised Land. The question that should be keeping awake everyone who truly hopes to end this bloody conflict is where do we go from here?

Since no one apparently plans to pack up and leave, and since no one is willing to give up his independent national existence in his homeland, there’s no choice but to divide the land between the two peoples. So it’s time to say to everyone, Jew and Arab, that anyone championing the Greater Land of Israel or Greater Palestine is bequeathing blood, sweat and tears to the coming generations.

If during the next few months we don’t witness some serious movement in the diplomatic process, and if no agreement is signed that includes a plan for ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state, it’s the Palestinian leaders’ responsibility to rip the mask off the Israeli government’s face. It’s about time these Palestinian leaders used some imagination and took steps to reshuffle the deck.

Several times I’ve argued that describing the Arabs as having an “oriental imagination” verges on libel. Such an imagination may exist in books, but those books are gathering dust in damp basements. Imagination has never helped the Arabs achieve political objectives. It’s time for the Palestinians to go down to those basements and come back with an action plan.

Palestinian leaders have two immediate imaginative options. The first is to take responsibility for the failure of the Palestinian Authority, declare that the PA is being dismantled and throw the keys back to the Israeli occupation government.

From that point on, Israel’s government would have to take responsibility for all matters relating to the West Bank, with all that implies. From that point on, the Palestinian struggle would focus on demanding equal rights in a single state, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

As for the second option, for the national struggle to remain legitimate, the Palestinian leaders must resign immediately, call new elections and make way for different leaders. These new leaders, unlike the current corrupt ones who were imported after a long stay in Tunisia, must be squeaky clean and locally rooted.

For the Palestinians to have their own Nelson Mandela they must put prisoner Marwan Barghouti at the top of the political pyramid. Moreover, to win the world’s support for the struggle, Barghouti should adopt Mandela’s social and political language. The sooner the better.

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