The Palestinian National Dialogue and the Current Challenges

  • 24 September 2008

Israel's continuance of settlement building in the West Bank is a violation of international law and of the human rights enshrined in it. And still it does not refrain from increasing settlement activities and in fact puts up public offerings from time to time for expanding existing ones despite repeated condemnations from the international community and regional and Arab parties. This constitutes a clear threat to the peace process which also faces many challenges caused by domestic Palestinian and Israeli considerations. There are the beginnings of a constitutional crisis between Fatah and Hamas about the potential extension of President Mahmoud Abbas' term until 2010 as well as political uncertainty in Israel following Tsipi Livni's accession to the leadership of Kadima and her forming of a new government.

These developments present real challenges to the Palestinians who must deal with them by overcoming internal disagreements and ceasing mutual accusations about who is responsible for failed dialogue. Neither the time nor the circumstances are opportune for these matters; in fact, they add tension and crises that reflect negatively on the Palestinian people. These accusations will impede any progress and hinder any efforts to achieve Palestinian national reconciliation. It is thus imperative that Fatah and Hamas realize that the separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will only add trouble to both parties and will serve the Israelis who always claim that they have no Palestinian partner for peace.

There is a very important development on the Israeli side that requires Palestinian attention and vigilance and that is Israeli President Shimon Perez's delegating the formation of a new government to Tsipi Livni after Ehud Olmert's resignation. Livni is known for her uncompromising positions with the Palestinians. Her negotiations with Ahmad Qurai`, chief Palestinian negotiator, have not produced any results because of her objections to concessions in final status talks and opposition to the return of the refugees and East Jerusalem to the Palestinians, two essential issues in any serious talks for peace.

Each day that passes without the Palestinian factions sitting together at one table within a clear national vision for the present and future is one that increases the Palestinian cause's loss of momentum, image, and justification. The latest developments in Israel tell of great threats that require a unified Palestinian stand that could ensure Palestinian rights.