Past Palestinian uprisings have, to a great extent, maintained an unmistakable identity, leaving behind many lessons to be learned and conclusions to be drawn. One of their unique qualities is their spontaneous origin, which quickly develops into a more sophisticated structure, with clear visions and precise demands. Although the recent explosion of anger in the West Bank and Gaza can be examined according to the same lines of past uprisings, the presence of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and its pseudo-partnership with Israel on security issues, has introduced an "alien variable" to the familiar equation.
Israel, since its establishment on occupied Palestinian land in 1948, was and continues to be perceived as the enemy, for most Palestinians at least. That perception, which was repeatedly strengthened by Israel's ongoing seizure of land, violent ventures and ceaseless attempts to bend the will of the Palestinians, provided reasonable rationale for resistance. Despite the lacking of many essentials for the resistance to continue, popular Palestinian uprisings have succeeded to clearly emphasize their persisting demand for the departure of Israel's occupying forces.
The signing of the Oslo accord in September of 1993 brought a great deal of confusion to the straight-forward Palestinian acts of defiance. The PA contained a large segment of the Palestinian leadership; mainly those involved with Fatah, the PLO's largest faction. Since many Palestinians trusted PA officials for such an affiliation, the initial outcome of Oslo was trusted as well. The PA leadership promised prosperity, freedom and sovereignty. Although most Palestinians were well aware of the difficulties in making promises with Israel, for them the greater promise of all was their confidence in their leadership's ability to remain on their side. However, the social injustices that increased under the PA's control, the undermining of the law and the presence of economic inequality, were all secondary concerns for Palestinians when compared with the perceptions of the PA and treatment of the resistance in the West Bank and Gaza. Slowly, Palestinians began to realize the awkwardness of the political circumstances that govern their relationship with the PA, and the PA's relationship with Israel.
The PA has managed to prolong the patience of impoverished Palestinians by asserting that the final status negotiations shall redeem the shortcomings of the past and deliver legitimate Palestinian rights. Seven years later, Palestinians have begun to see that the awaited final status may not be as fulfilling as initially hoped. Even though the final handshake is yet to come, earlier signals are increasing concerns that a comprehensive and just solution is unlikely under the present circumstances, considering the PA's failure to influence Israel's conclusive decisions on vital issues.
The recent clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli soldiers were a reminder of the Palestinian peoples' unwillingness to disregard their fundamental rights. And like other revolts, it listed its priorities openly and fearlessly. Freeing political prisoners, regardless of their political affiliation, Jerusalem for a capital and the return of refugees were some of the many chants and banners held by Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Gaza. The waiving fists, the resolute voices, and the rocks thrown at Israeli soldiers were the collective effort of Palestinians whose loyalties are distributed among various factions, including Fatah.
One of the recent uproar's achievements was removing the awkwardness of the PA's unsuited and out-of-place presence in the Palestinian war of resistance against Israel. The rocks thrown at Israeli military vehicles and snipers contained several messages. One is the lack of trust in the negotiations all together. Second is the skepticism of the positive outcome of the final status negotiations, in particular, the PA's competence in contributing to such an outcome. And finally, the collectivity of these efforts proved that unity among Palestinians is genuine, spontaneous, and lasting exactly like their revolutions.
Both the Israeli government and the PA should analyze the message sent through several days of clashes. Any peace equation that fails to result in true freedom, justice and fairness to those living in Palestine or those who remain in Diaspora is worthless, even if relative calm prevails for some time. If Israel is truly interested in living in peace with its neighbors as it claims, then it must pay back its debts to its neighbors, beginning with the Palestinian people. And if the PA wishes to be a deserving leadership of the Palestinian people, it should avoid dangerous compromises, remember its priorities, and foremost become a true representative for all Palestinian people.
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