With every impasse in the peace talks between the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Israel, Palestinian officials declare that soon Palestinian statehood will be declared, whether Israel likes it or not. The latest of these vows was on Sunday, February 13. Both sides appeared certain that a framework treaty would be signed in a cheerful ceremony in the White House by this date. The Fatah Revolutionary Council, an assembly of 132 members of Arafat's party, passed a resolution that calls for the declaration of any independent Palestinian state by September of this year.
Most Palestinians little disagree with the significance that an independent Palestine holds. Such a concept is in fact a very endeared one that it is perceived as the end of a long journey filled with dispossession and costly struggle. Repeated unfulfilled promises of declaring that state however, although meant for political purposes, are damaging the value of such an important goal. Moreover, it is costing Palestinians a loss in any confidence that they still hold in their leadership. And finally, such a political tactic exposes the dangerous lack of options left in the PNA's pocket while approaching the most consequential period in their rocky talks with Israel.
In most types of negotiations, despite the surrounding circumstances, each party strives to hold certain tactics, so that the other party is aware of these tactics, and stays wary of his opponent's potential. This is indeed an important and valid political strategy for it keeps both negotiating parties from overlooking the other's needs and expectations. In the Palestinian-Israeli case that needed balance is unfortunately lacking. Aside from Israel's ultimate control and domination over the physical and political environment of the talks, the Palestinian leadership has contributed to its own political loneliness by pardoning Israel from fully committing to UN resolutions.
However the Palestinian leadership has discovered that by warning the declaration of an independent state without Israel's blessing is an agitating notion to Israel. That agitation has reached the point of ousting Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, who threatened to re-occupy the areas in which Israel forces have cleared in the last a few years. While Palestinians should not be denied the right to employ all tactics to advance their political goals, it seems that they are misusing their lonely option and indeed hurting the goal, which they are supposedly aiming to protect.
The argument of why declaring an independent state can never be truly achieved under the current circumstances can be lengthy. Yet such an argument can be easily approved if one looks at the status of the territories thus far controlled by Palestinians. Less than 40 percent of the West Bank and Gaza are said to be under PNA control. These already scattered areas of land are suffering from additional fragmentation caused by Israeli military routes, vast Israeli controlled areas filled with settlements and surrounded with high towers, Israeli flags, wires and much more. More than anyone else, Palestinians are aware of the painful truth that declaring a state is more than a parliamentary resolution and a national anthem. But it is true desperation and lack of options that forces Palestinians to proclaim such intentions.
Many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are losing trust not only in the peace talks and its proposed outcome, and in Israel's intentions and sincere quest to end the conflict, but also in their own leadership. While the last loss of trust was not only caused by the PNA's failure to deliver most of its promises, since internal corruption and misuse of resources were also to blame, the ongoing but largely fruitless talks are the primary reason for such loss of faith. With each unfulfilled promise on the PNA's part, hope in the hearts of many Palestinians fade. And with each strategic lie made by the PNA leadership, who is desperately attempting to corner Israel, Palestinians believe such lie. They mark the date and count the days but as always, they never manage to find the gold at the end of the rainbow. Sadly, they return with nothing but more empty promises.
The Palestinian leadership must and should change its tactics and describe the reality of the shabby wall it leans on while negotiating with Israel. Palestinian statehood should not be subject to manipulation and undelivered vows, for it is one of the most sacred destinations that the Palestinian struggle hopes to reach. There are other strategies that can be used on the negotiating table. Breaking the spirit of the people should not be one of them.