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The 100-day Battle, Losses and Alternatives

The 100-day Battle, Losses and Alternatives

Saturday, 8 May, 2021 - 10:00
Nabil Amr
Palestinian writer and politician

The Palestinians’ 100-day battle, which started with the decree calling for holding elections and ended with their postponement, embodied a fact that Palestinians do not like; the country and its people are governed by decree, not institutions that spring the ballot box.


Since their revolution erupted, the Palestinians’ lives have been a series of battles. Military battles led to losses on the field and losses of life, but this was compensated by political progress that fortified the Palestinian cause’s position as a factor to be accounted for in regional and international calculations, the Palestinian revolution’s first and most significant achievement.


However, after the 100-day battle, which was akin to a conflict of choices, an array of losses was registered, and they were not compensated for politically. They are the following:


Firstly, adding a new contentious issue that went beyond the political forces. Indeed, it has had an impact on the social fabric. Without getting into the influence of each of the dispute’s parties- all of which claim a majority and perhaps unanimity- the result was a crystallization of the struggle between those who want to renew institutions and legitimacy through elections and those who are clinging to the status quo despite the accelerating decline and lack of successes on any front.


Secondly, deepening the crisis of confidence between the Palestinian Authority and its foremost international backer, the European Union, which encouraged Abbas to issue the decrees. However, he was not able to receive Israeli approval for facilitating the elections, especially in the most contentious place, Jerusalem. The Europeans used to and continue to believe that the PA disregarded alternatives that would have allowed for holding elections in all regions.


Thirdly, the “most dangerous” of the three, acknowledging that occupation forces make the decisions on what is permissible and prohibited for Palestinians. It is true that Israeli influence on all Palestinian affairs cannot be averted; however, there are spaces inside the conflict that can be used to further mainstream Palestinian objectives. These include transforming the election battle from one of waiting for the Israeli position to changing into one where the conflict is between the Palestinian ballot box and the Israeli occupation’s rifle. Such a battle would allow those casting their ballots to reap substantial gains.


These are the losses of the 100-day battle, and all of them have opened the door wide to an escalation of the complex conflict, Palestinian-Palestinian and Palestinian-Israeli.


After the elections were postponed without a set and early date for when they will be held, as had been demanded by all the lists (except for Fatah’s official list) and the PA’s primary funders, the Europeans, those who decided to postpone the elections presented the following alternatives:


First: holding comprehensive national discussions to agree on a unified program for what is usually called “confronting challenges!”


Secondly: forming a government led by Fatah and Hamas, alongside the smaller factions, and here, they could go as far as appeasing the lists that lost their chance to enter the legislature through the ballot box.


Third: continuing to diplomatically work on mobilizing international pressure on Israel to allow the elections to be held in Jerusalem and to facilitate the electoral process in other regions.


The story of comprehensive dialogue, in light of the Palestinians’ experiences with them- especially those aimed at tackling division- seems redundant and futile; it cannot be an alternative to elections.


The story of a government that is supposed to include the two major factions would have been a reasonable step in the event that elections had been held and they had formed through parliament on the basis of the results. However, if it was an alternative, it will be nothing but a process of splitting the divisions through quotas that entrench the status quo without making any progress in any direction.


As for working internationally- though it is needed in all cases- it will not bear fruit amid the US refusal to apply pressure and the Europeans’ inability to do so in the first palace. Here, we must refer to an important issue; Israel wants nothing more than for the Palestinians to stay where they currently are. It is not only against elections being held in East Jerusalem but everywhere.


Moreover, the Israel of 2006 that acquiesced to American and European pressure, allowing votes in Jerusalem to be cast by mail, is different to the Israel of 2021 that deals with Jerusalem and Palestinian affairs according to the “taboo” presented by former US President Donald Trump.


Everything we have seen indicates that the next Israeli government, whether it is formed after the fourth or fifth elections, will not change the main policy on Jerusalem or a settlement with the Palestinians. Instead, it will continue to waste opportunities for compromise in order to have total control over Palestinian affairs now and in the future. It has obvious pretexts to do this. Among them is that the issue of holding negotiations, reaching a settlement and proposing solutions is not on the American agenda.


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