Nabil Amr
Palestinian writer and politician

Where Will the Palestinian October Lead?

Every war, regardless of its scale and the number of participating armies and nations, inevitably gives rise to political settlements that draw new maps and create entities. This is particularly true of global and regional wars.

With regard to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it is a perpetual war. It did not begin on the morning of October 7, 2023, but in the early 20th century. It has gone on for so long that it could be called a war of two centuries.

An unsentimental reading of its historical developments leads us to the conclusion that the Palestinians have made mistakes at times and attacked appropriately at others. However, one thing they can certainly be credited for is the immense sacrifices they have made, possibly unparalleled by any other nation relative to the size of their population. They have not given up on their cause, rights, or national identity, despite the conventional balance of power consistently being skewed against their favor and superior alliances of their Israeli adversary, which has always enjoyed European and US support.

Attempts to resolve the Palestinian question have been made on many occasions. Many of the successful putschists who gained power in the Arab world set the liberation of Palestine as their top priority. On an even larger number of occasions, we seemed to be on the brink of a solution. But it would prove to be a mirage once we got close enough to drink the water.

The rise of the Palestinian revolution was obvious and inevitable. It began with the slogan of liberating Palestinian territory on which the state of Israel was established. After what remained of the Palestinian territories were occupied in 1967 and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) status as the sole legitimate representative of both the Palestinian people and their cause was solidified, both in conflicts and negotiations, Palestinians heeded the world's call. They walked back on the initial aspirations the revolution proclaimed in 1965 and focused their discourse and efforts on establishing a Palestinian state in the territories that had been occupied in 1967. However, they did not renege on their demand for a solution to the refugee issue based on international law.

After October 1973, the question was posed again, through bilateral Egypt and Israel held separately from their main negotiations. The Palestinians rebuffed their proposals, which were for autonomous rule; nevertheless, the Egyptians continued to negotiate their own deal and eventually fully liberated Sinai.

Since the Nakba (catastrophe), the Palestinians have gone from fighting one war to another, from being displaced from one place to another. Their journey is brimming with heroic achievements, but their aspirations have not materialized; after each conflict, they seem to get further and further.

Now, let's look at the opposing side (Israel) and how its policies have closed the door to any settlement, which automatically opens the door to war. Let's recount the story that started in Madrid and then Oslo.

In Madrid, Yitzhak Shamir, the Israeli Prime Minister at the time, demonstrated that he had been dragged to the conference, wasting everyone's time in discussions that achieved no concrete results.

As for Oslo, this experiment was soiled by a duo that ascended to power on a program founded on destroying Oslo and everything that had been built upon it. This duo has been ruling and calling the shots in Israel since then. Sharon may have died, but his partner in dismantling Oslo is not merely alive, he has served as Prime Minister for five or six consecutive terms, governing on the basis of the foundational principles of the Likud that he and the late Sharon had been committed to, and they are being acted on to this day.

After Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, Israel declared a war of revenge. They played the game of numbers on the principle: if you kill a thousand, we will kill four thousand; if you destroy a hundred homes, we will demolish ten thousand. This is how things are going now, rendering even discussions of a political settlement unthinkable.

The United States repositioned an aircraft carrier to the shores of Israel and Gaza, as well as several other countries, in a show of support. Western countries outbid one another in their rhetoric about Israel's right to defend itself and endorsing Israel's military option.

Reason would suggest that we should essentially expect the United States and its global allies to put forward some kind of political initiative that puts military solutions to one side. Their sole condition should be to satisfy the Palestinians and the Arabs, not to align with Israel's whims and agendas. By doing so, they would kick start the process, allowing everyone to escape the cycle of occupation, siege, and conflict, which has marked our lands for three-quarters of a century and continues to expand in horrific ways.

The Arab Peace Initiative lays out the exact terms that would be acceptable to Arabs and Palestinians, and align with international law. By agreeing to it, Israel could find peace, and so could the US and the world.