Disagreements among various Palestinian factions go back to the early years of the Palestinian armed revolution following the war of 1967. The disputes initiated after the signing of Oslo however, were considered to be the greatest fracture in Palestinian society and political movements yet to occur.
The signing of Oslo started an era in which one large Palestinian faction became the only decision-maker regarding the Palestinian question, overlooking therefore the role played by the Palestinian Liberation Organization, PLO, and its dialogue approach to consequential issues.
Years after the many failures caused by the one sided approach which The Palestinian National authority used in its talks with Israel, Palestinian national unity, society and movements could have not been any more fragmented or shattered.
Recently, some changes in the larger political environment have obliged Palestinian movements to resort to dialogue and preaching of National unity.
The Syrian-Israeli front for example, was ready to resume its "peace talks" which also meant that the time had come for Syria to command Palestinian opposition groups to revise their arms struggle approach to a monitored political one.
Earlier this month, Palestinian movements met in Cairo to confront these differences, which stood as a barrier in the way of achieving a united Palestinian front.
On August 31, a large Palestinian conference is to be held on The West Bank. Many Palestinian movements are hoping to set mutual standards that must be met in order for negotiations to resume.
Even though such a strategy should have been adopted many years ago, the move is badly needed. Israel has considerably succeeded in stripping the Palestinian negotiators from most of the tools needed in the long and hard process of negotiation. What made the Israeli success even more predictable is the fact that the Palestinian leadership in The West Bank and Gaza has failed to stick with its pre-set agenda and priorities.
The Palestinian streets' enthusiasm regarding cultivated fruitful results of peace talks has faded with the passing years. Corruption among Palestinian officials and the parting of the leadership and the masses has also weakened the once strong Palestinian stand.
Yet, unifying the Palestinian front should not be confused with depriving the Palestinian opposition of their right to freely express themselves. Instead, the stage must be completely open to all parties, not so that they can channel their anger in heated debates, but to significantly affect and determine the future status and progress of future talks with Israel.
A true Palestinian unity among all Palestinian factions, including movements considered by Israel as terrorist movements, must prevail, for time is running short to salvage what has not yet been lost. Once unity is established, the closing of an era in which few individuals dominate the Palestinian political will and national aspiration must follow.
A civil dialogue amongst Palestinian factions must be part of a larger change, regarding the way in which the Palestinian National Authority deals with its opposition in the West Bank and Gaza. With this issue secured, dialogue will produce truthful and lasting results. In other words, neither the language of handcuffing nor imprisoning can be used to silence the voices of the opposition, regardless of how different their stands may be. Needless to say, those who have already been thrown into Palestinian prisons for their political ideas must me released.
Palestinian factions significantly differ in their views regarding the peace process, yet without a doubt they agree on sovereignty and a free Palestine. Therefore, the opportunity for reviving and unifying efforts to carry on a shared struggle for Palestine must be seized.