When will the Palestinian leadership admit failure?

We, Palestinians, want to hear the Palestinian leadership say: ‘Yes, we failed.’

Palestine protest 2015 Reuters
There is a desperate need for the Palestinian leadership to clean in front of its people, writes Abukhater [Reuters]

If our strategy failed and our political manoeuvres hit a dead-end, is it not the time we change direction?

A month after the United States administration’s announcement on the shift in policy on the status of Jerusalem, also described as the end of the US mediation charade, many Palestinians continue to wonder why the Palestinian Authority (PA) has not yet made a major declaration about shifting its own strategy on seeking statehood and justice for Palestinians.

The Palestinian leadership’s lack of vision for an alternative strategy is one reason it is insisting on continuing in the same direction. But more importantly, there is also a strong desire by those in power to maintain the status quo. This is because the status quo not only serves Israel as the occupying power, but it is also in the interest of a small privileged class of Palestinians who benefit from the current system of power and economic monopoly in the occupied territories.


The PA is securing political support among the population by offering access to resources for economic survival rather than encouraging programmes that serve the national interest. This class of privileged Palestinians benefit directly from the PA’s redistribution of public resources along factional lines and constituent loyalties. This, in turn, helps the ruling elite preserve the status quo and maintain its dominance of political and economic assets.

Hence, the PA and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) is desperately trying to save the endless two-state negotiations.

It refuses to recognise the fact that the two-state solution died even before US President Donald Trump issued his declaration recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Israelis do not show any interest in any type of “peace process”. Israeli society in general does not even consider settlements in the Jordan Valley or major blocks such as Ma’ale Adumim and Ariel, as territories they are willing to abandon for the sake of future establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Settlers continue to build their settlements undeterred; evictions and land grabs have not slowed down. So the facts on the ground are such that a contiguous Palestinian state with occupied East Jerusalem as its capital has become impossible.

Yet like a drowning man clutching at a straw, the PLO tried to make the two-state solution relevant again by starting talk about suspending the recognition of Israel. It has continued to hope that the European Union would come to its aid and recognise a Palestinian state. But Brussels does not seem willing to provide such vital support to the lifeless two-state solution.

There is no reason why the PA’s continued support for the current peace process strategy also because the territory which is still under its control could be officially annexed by the Israeli government very soon under a number of laws the Israeli Knesset recently passed.

If international support is evidently not within grasp and continuing the negotiations is futile, then the PA should acknowledge its own strategic failure.

In fact, there is a desperate need for the Palestinian leadership to clean in front of its people. “Yes, we have failed”, is the phrase many Palestinians want to hear.

The obsolete leadership needs to step aside in order to allow for that to happen; stubbornness and self-righteousness at this moment is not acceptable. Israel has been creating facts on the ground for decades, while the Palestinian leadership seems to have totally exhausted their tools of negotiation during that same period, most notably “compromise”.

At this critical stage in our history, full honesty from the Palestinian leadership could provide us with a small beacon of hope; it would help us unite as a people in moving forward to find solutions and devise an inclusive strategy.

As Palestinians, we need to voice our need for a sudden and dramatic change in strategy. We need to involve our people in such decision-making, perhaps through the revival of a council that represents the entire Palestinian population at home and abroad.

In an article he wrote in 1998, Edward Said lamented: “We cannot fight for our rights and our history as well as future until we are armed with weapons of criticism and dedicated consciousness.”

The situation in Palestine is becoming unbearable for many of us Palestinians living under occupation. But we will not be able to work against the occupation with our full potential until we go through critical introspection and be honest with ourselves. Only then can we start building a new strategy to resist and defeat the occupation.  

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.