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Al-Makahleh: Palestinians must seize the moment

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Dr. Shehab Al Makahleh

In the complex landscape of Israeli-Palestinian relations, the Palestinian leadership finds itself at a critical juncture. It is a moment that demands an irreversible shift away from an Israeli-American-dictated process and a break from old routines. Simultaneously, the Jordanian leadership faces an unenviable dilemma, with his Majesty King Abdullah II demonstrating that principled stances need not alienate the West. The stakes are high, and it is essential to recognize the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

The current situation presents a unique opportunity for the Palestinian leadership to assert their right and reshape the narrative surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By taking decisive actions and making strategic choices, they can break free from the constraints of an Israeli-American-dictated process and avoid slipping back into old routines. This requires a departure from a passive approach and a willingness to take calculated risks.

Returning to the status quo ante of peace-processing is no longer a credible option. The American predisposition to support Israeli demands, regardless of their impact on peace, has long undermined the credibility of such efforts. While this issue predates the administration, the US has exacerbated the problem by promoting an ideologically maximalist Israeli narrative. The administration’s broader ideological project leaves little room for genuine reckoning with Muslim sensibilities or dignity on Jerusalem or any other issue.

Even if the Palestinians are coerced or persuaded back into the peace process or choose to embrace the golden cage of the status quo, the results will likely be disappointing. Moreover, given the backdrop of the Jerusalem declaration, those associated with a return to business as usual risk negative consequences. However, in every crisis lies an opportunity. Unexpectedly, an avenue out of the strategic cul-de-sac emerges for the Palestinians. The choice ultimately lies with them, but they will require a supportive hinterland, similar to the pivotal role played by the African National Council (ANC) struggle in South Africa.

Unfortunately, today’s hinterland is characterized by division, conflict, and competing claims to leadership and legitimacy. The issue of Palestine, thus far, has united voices only rhetorically. However, by focusing the spotlight on Jerusalem, a limited yet real opportunity has been created. Palestinians must make difficult choices, as must others have involved. The Pax Americana regional camp has been on the decline for some time, and doubling down on American dependency now promises an uncertain future, even for Israel itself. However, stepping out in front on this issue, as some have already done, carries significant benefits. Palestinians possess their own power and cards to play. By asserting their independence and taking bold actions, they can reshape the narrative and dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is an equation that could become intriguing if the Palestinians seize their moment and actively shape their own future.

One of the key challenges is the credibility deficit faced by any peace process that seeks to return to the status quo ante. The biased support of the United States towards Israeli demands has long undermined the faith of Palestinians and the broader regional and Muslim communities in the viability of such initiatives. It is crucial for the Palestinian leadership to navigate this challenge by seeking alternative avenues and partnerships that can provide a more balanced and impartial framework for negotiations.

At the same time, aligning with the coming Trump administration and Israeli hardline positions on Jerusalem and future peace plans would come at a significant cost. It would risk further alienating the Palestinian population and regional allies while perpetuating a status quo that falls short of their aspirations for a just and comprehensive resolution. By rejecting such approaches, the Palestinian leadership can demonstrate independence and integrity, and potentially rally support from international actors who value justice and human rights.

However, it is important to acknowledge the complexities and divisions within the Palestinian hinterland. Internal divisions, conflicting claims to leadership, and legitimacy disputes have hindered the unity of the Palestinian cause. Overcoming these challenges requires a concerted effort to bridge gaps, foster reconciliation, and build a unified front that can effectively advocate for Palestinian rights on the international stage.

International support and solidarity are crucial for the Palestinian struggle. Engaging with like-minded nations, civil society organizations, and influential individuals who prioritize justice and peace can provide the Palestinians with the supportive hinterland needed to navigate the challenges ahead. Strengthening diplomatic ties, engaging in public diplomacy, and leveraging international forums and institutions are all avenues that can be explored to build alliances and garner support.

It is imperative to recognize that the path ahead will not be easy. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is deeply entrenched, and there are powerful forces at play that seek to maintain the status quo. However, history has shown that change is possible, and moments of crisis often present opportunities for transformative action. The Palestinian leadership, supported by a united and determined population, can seize this moment to redefine the terms of engagement, challenge the inequities and biases of the current system, and work towards a just and lasting resolution.

In conclusion, the Palestinian leadership faces significant challenges, but they also have stance and opportunities to shape their own future. By breaking away from the Israeli-American-dictated process, asserting their independence, and seeking support from a supportive hinterland, they can create new dynamics that shift the balance towards a just and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a path that requires courage, strategic thinking, and unity, but it holds the potential for a brighter future for the Palestinian people.

This is not an easy path, and challenges lie ahead. But history has shown that change is possible, even in the face of adversity. The Palestinians must tap into their resilience, draw strength from their unity, and seek support from like-minded nations and individuals who believe in justice and peace. By doing so, they can transform this critical moment into a turning point that leads to a just and lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The time for Palestinian state is now.