Palestinian Unity: Goal or Mantra?
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa used exceptionally tough language during a
"I am extremely angry with the Palestinian organisations... We are studying the measures to be taken in the face of the current Palestinian chaos," he said, after a meeting of Arab foreign ministers. He added, "the sanctions would not be against anyone in particular. They would be against the party which obstructs reconciliation and maybe against everyone or against the organisation which obstructs Egyptian efforts."
Considering Moussa's devoted efforts in the past aimed at solidifying a Palestinian front and generating a semblance of a Arab unity in its support, one can only sympathise with the head of the League's frustration and indeed "extreme anger".
Palestinian disunity, and political -- if not, geopolitical -- fragmentation is eroding the Palestinian cause more than all Israeli efforts, walls and military incursions combined. The painful-to-watch televised bickering between representatives of various Palestinian factions has led to confusion among traditionally pro-Palestinian groups worldwide. The political objectives -- once agreed upon as "constants" -- and symbols that once united Palestinians everywhere are now wide open for extreme interpretation.
In fact, "respecting the sanctity of Palestinian blood", which for long served as the lowest possible denominator agreed on by every Palestinian grouping, has been violated many times in recent months and years; too many times to count. Repeating the slogan is, at this point, an empty mantra, joining the numerous other mantras that have for long served as a sedative for the hapless masses, whether Arabs, Palestinians or both.
That said, a reality check is also in order. It might be easy for the Arab League to pass a measure or two to sanction Palestinian groups who might be perceived as the ones jeopardising the
Following Hamas's majority victory in Legislative Council elections in January 2006, Arab countries could have congratulated the winner, promised cooperation and urged unity among rivals. Instead, some chose to do the exact opposite, ostracising Hamas from their meetings and conferences, playing favourites and smoothing the way for US-led international sanctions that have devastated Palestinian society in
Moreover, some of those countries found it appropriate to train Palestinian fighters loyal to the Fatah faction in preparation for combat not against
As for the embargo that has turned an already desperate
Secretary-General Moussa perhaps enjoys more respect among Palestinians than some of their own leaders, but the truth must be told, especially since has he had the courage to open the door of candour and honesty. "Do they [the Palestinians] have a state for them to be fighting over [for] ministerial positions? We kidded ourselves and called it the state of
He cannot possibly be anymore accurate. Palestinians are nowhere near the process of state building and they should remain a national liberation movement until freedom is attained. But equally we also kid ourselves when we place our full trust in the Arab League, which is merely a reflection of the wishes of its members with records that are morally porous themselves.
What is the point of lending the
On the other hand, one cannot completely override the possibility that Hamas is in consultation with, and maybe to a degree influenced by,
True, Palestinian unity is a must and is a prerequisite to any meaningful, large scale Palestinian strategy aimed at ending the Israeli occupation. But the term must be appreciated, qualified and its practical meaning understood fully before it too turns into another cheap Arab mantra, inscribed on many street corners, but no longer meaning anything.
Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press,