Amid all the ongoing media coverage of the leaked “Palestine Papers,” Amira Haas of Haaretz offers some of the most insightful commentary yet:
Indeed, the “Palestine Papers” confirm an open secret: Contrary to the declarations recited in public, the leadership of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority is prepared for far-reaching concessions on the holy grail of the traditional Palestinian position: the right of return of refugees from the Palestinian “nakba” of 1948.
“When we demand a two-state solution, we do not mean two Palestinian states,” a senior Fatah official told me with regard to the question of the return of the refugees to pre-1967 Israel. Had the PLO leadership respected its people, it would not be speaking out of both sides of its mouth, but conducting an open debate about this demand. It would have shared its conclusions with its public (at home and in exile ): The dreamed-of right of return is not attainable, at least not at this stage in history, and that it is not fair to continue to keep four million people hostage under the boot of the occupation for its sake. Others would have replied that under cover of the negotiations, and despite the Palestinian concessions, Israel simply expanded its settlements anyway.
It is not technical problems that are preventing such a democratic debate, but the failure to see the people as an agent of change.
The PLO depends on the largess and diplomacy of Western nations who cooperate with the occupation policy. Hamas, addicted to the armed struggle and its purported achievements, is dependent on donations from its own sources, and is waiting for the toppling of the pro-western Arab regimes by radical Islamic movements.
Both Palestinian rivals know how to use the resilience and creativity of their people in the face of the daily torture that is foreign rule. But they do not help translate this personal and collective stamina into a strategy of unarmed popular struggle….