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19 January 2017

What after the Paris peace conference?

By: Daoud Kuttab
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The January 15 Paris peace conference has come and gone with a little more than a blimp appearing on the world’s political radar.
 
Sure, the conference witnessed 70 countries supporting the two-state solution and opposing settlements. And France’s unpopular president said all the right things, including urging the US president-elect not to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem.
 
But the conference also witnessed the UK and Australia hesitating in supporting the final communiqué and The Netherlands urging direct talks and saying that world cannot impose peace.
 
So where do Palestinians stand after Israel’s defiance of all the countries that voted for UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (without paying a price for its rejection) and after the Paris conference failed to produce any concrete action?
 
It is clear for the Palestinians that relying on the world proved to be largely a waste of time.
 
Palestinian leaders must pay much more attention to the home front and continue to depend on themselves, while not easing the pressure on the world community to act, especially in areas that will cost Israel a political and economic price for its actions.
 
Work on the home front must take precedence now.
 
The recent Beirut preparatory meeting for the upcoming Palestine National Council, which Hamas and Islamic Jihad attended, and the meetings in Moscow appear to send positive signals about the moves towards unity.
 
A national unity government must be created quickly and after the convening of a united PLO, all efforts must be focused on holding presidential and parliamentary elections that will end the split and reunite the Palestinian areas.
 
In addition to the urgent need for unity, a number of other issues must take priority.
 
Much more effort needs to be exerted now on accelerating the building of the institutions and the economy of a viable Palestinian state.
 
Foreign diplomats and intergovernmental agencies have been expressing frustration with the speed of Palestinian institutional building.
 
With the muqata (Palestinian presidential headquarters) in Ramallah busy with the UN and Paris, not enough attention has been given to domestic issues.
 
The worldwide support that was reflected in Paris needs to be channelled towards supporting the building of a strong and vibrant Palestinian economy, at the same time pressing Israel and forcing the occupiers to pay a price for their illegal occupation and settlement enterprise.
 
Palestinians in the diaspora and the worldwide grassroots support for Palestine must be channelled and translated into action.
 
At present, the Palestinian disunity is reflected in the diaspora as well. Not only is the Fateh-Hamas split reflected in Palestinian communities, but there is another split that has left many leading thinkers and activists unwilling to work together.
 
The Palestinian leadership’s hesitation in adopting and supporting the BDS movement has left many activists alienated and turned them into political opponents of the current leadership.
 
Agreement must be reached that can reunite these activists and make them work together on the basis of opposition to the occupation rather than disagreement over whether to adopt the one-state or the two-state plan.
 
The Palestinian leadership needs to rekindle the vast support that exists in the Arab world and which has fizzled out in recent years for a variety of reasons.
 
Inter-Arab conflicts have left interest in the cause of Palestine at the bottom of the Arab priority list.
 
The internal Palestinian conflict also contributed to this lukewarm Arab support.
 
The distinction between leaders and people that was very clear in the past is not so clear today.
 
Both governments and peoples (for different reasons) lost their original love for Palestine.
 
Much work and effort is needed to rekindle the support for justice and peace in Palestine.
 
It will not happen on its own. A concerted effort is needed to work on Arab and Muslim communities who are the natural depth of the Palestinian cause.
 
Palestinians need to take the initiative to resolve internal problems and rekindle Arab and worldwide solidarity, rather than put much attention and effort in ineffective diplomacy that produces little more than lip service to the cause of Palestine.

* A Palestinian columnist based in Amman, Jordan. - dkuttab@ammannet.net



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