Unity is key to Palestinian future

This year the Nakba, the Day of Catastrophe that the uprooted Palestinians everywhere mark every year to remember the tragedy when their homeland was occupied and they were driven from their homes, was apparently no different.

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Published: Mon 17 May 2010, 9:54 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:46 PM

Yet the 62nd anniversary of the Nakba, which for the first time saw Hamas and Fatah leaders come together in Gaza in rare unity, has revived the Palestinian spirit renewing the hopes and aspirations of a long suffering and demoralised people.

All that the leaders from rival Islamist Hamas and the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did on Saturday was to share the platform at a large public rally to mark the Nakba in Gaza. The rally, organised by the Islamic Jihad, coincided with reports of “serious talks” between the rival Palestinian parties to resolve their differences. But it was clearly enough to excite and rejuvenate a tormented people who have been imprisoned in their own homes and land even as their leaders endlessly spar and the world community remains a silent spectator.

Ordinary Palestinians are increasingly conscious of the critical importance of the unity in their ranks, especially between the Fatah movement that has played a historic role in Palestinian struggle under the late Yasser Arafat and the Hamas which received a clear, popular mandate in the last parliamentary elections and is yet shunned by the US and the rest of the West because Israel says so.

You don’t have to be a pundit to know that

Palestinians cannot put across their point of view and demand their rights if their leaders kept fighting. This is why there have been numerous initiatives and sincere efforts for Hamas-Fatah unity and reconciliation by Palestinian civil society and Arab and Muslim leadership including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia even hosted Abbas and Hamas leaders Khaled Meshal and Ismail Haniya in the holy city of Makkah. Unfortunately, nothing has worked so far.

This is why the Hamas-Fatah show of unity in Gaza is being widely welcomed across the Middle East and larger Islamic world, not to mention the sense of euphoria it has generated in Palestinian territories. Let’s hope the spectacle of solidarity on Saturday is indeed part of a larger and positive change on the ground in the Holy Land, and not just an isolated, fluke incident. Doubtless, what Palestinians face in Israeli Apartheid and oppression is unprecedented in recent history. Locked down in the world’s largest prison and denied of basic necessities of life, they see no hope of justice or help from any quarter. They face a totally ruthless and wily enemy, which cares two hoots for world public opinion or that blessed but meaningless document, the UN Human Rights Charter.

The bare minimum Palestinians need to take on their powerful and scheming tormentor is unity in their ranks and unity of purpose and action by their leaders. They cannot demand justice from the international community and reclaim what has been stolen from them unless the Palestinians and their leaders speak in one voice.

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