Salah Hamouri - It wasn’t easy for Palestinians to rise in struggle and assert their national identity in the aftermath of the 1948 and 1967 losses, and despite the consequent Israel occupation, one of the worst crimes in modern history, and the dispersion of our people as refugees to all corners of the world. Faced with this dark scene, where Arab division and the collaboration of some Arab regimes against the struggle, meant that Palestinians had no other option but to return to the will and capacities of its people and launch a revolution under the banner of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO offered an architecture and umbrella from within which Palestinians were able to frame their identity, and unite their forces in order to push back against the Arab defeats, and rebuild politically, militarily, culturally and economically.
Despite historic disagreements on the PLO’s performance and its sometimes individualistic decision-making and management mechanisms, it remained the primary political address of the Palestinian people, and the overarching national framework from which they battled occupation and colonization. The previous phase of the national movement saw several mistakes that weakened the role of all Palestinian institutions, including the Palestinian National Council, the Palestinian Central Council, and other vital national institutions. In particular, this weakness led to the Oslo settlement and the resulting near total elimination of the role of the PLO and its replacement with the Palestinian Authority and the shrinking of political work to encompass only a fraction of our occupied land.
The result of this painful Oslo experiment was the dissolution of all of the PLO’s institutions, and the political and geographic fragmentation of our occupied homeland. This in turn has resulted in the diversion, distraction and disunity of the Palestinian people.
Faced with this situation of political fragmentation and the arrogance of the occupation and settlement expansion, the Palestinian people face their historic responsibility to restore a unified national framework. There is no escaping this responsibility, as it is the key to returning us to a strategy of real resistance. Indeed, the exit from the current crisis demands that everyone, across the full spectrum of Palestinian politics, assert creative and serious will to advance the national project.
In the face of this critical political situation, both internally and as a result of the continued targeting of all things Palestinian by the occupiers, I think the only solution is to return to our people by rebuilding a new Palestinian National Council. The nucleus of Palestinian unity, through it we pave the way towards a unified political program.
This elected National Assembly would be the gathering point from which to resolve conflict, and find effective alternatives to all bilateral agreements with the occupation. It would emerge with a resistance project that restores the Palestinian struggle to its rightful place in the international community, and would block any attempts to blur or relinquish Palestinian refugee rights to the current balance of powers in the international arena.
Indeed, it is precisely in understanding this balance of powers, that at this stage, the revitalization of the PLO remains the best solution for the Palestinian people. We must move forward with direct elections to the Palestinian National Council so that we may unify our strategy, our leadership our people, and our factions, so that we may all struggle for liberation, return and self-determination.
Salah Hamouri is a former prisoner and Palestinian organizer.
was published in Al-Quds al-Arabi in Arabic , 02/01/2013