Ashraf al-Ajrami, the former minister of prisoners’ affairs in the Palestinian Authority and part of the Israeli-Arab group behind the 2003 Geneva Initiative, this month published a lengthy policy brief on the website of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which is behind the only reliable public opinion surveys in the PA and Gaza. Titled, “Confronting the New Israeli Government,” al-Ajrami’s brief reveals the general trepidation on the other side regarding the new Benjamin Netanyahu government.
“In reality, we are dealing with an extreme right-wing government that engraves on its banner the killing of the idea of a political settlement based on the two-state solution on the borders of the fourth of June 1967. Instead, it will seek with all its strength to permanently block this idea. All the coalition parties, especially the trio of Netanyahu, Smotrich, and Ben Gvir, do not even support maintaining the bad status quo as it is but will escalate things further. They certainly pose a grave and immediate threat to Palestinian national rights and aspirations,” al-Ajrami writes.
He proposes to “shed light on the changes taking place in the Israeli policy towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict after the formation of the new government, the extent of its threat and impact on the reality in the Palestinian territories and on the overall national cause.”
“But it mainly addresses what Palestinians can and should do to avoid the risks resulting from the developing threat and preserve national rights,” al-Ajrami notes, suggesting his paper “takes into consideration the magnitude of the domestic Israeli, regional and international opposition to the fledgling government’s policy.”
After reviewing the “fundamental changes in Israel’s political system,” al-Ajrami examines “What would a Palestinian confrontational strategy look like?”
“First, we urgently need the Palestinian leadership in the PLO, and President Mahmoud Abbas in particular, as well as the leadership of Hamas, to take a definitive decision to begin the process of building national unity,” al-Ajrami stresses. And after recommending a free election in the PA and Gaza, he declares: “We must break free from the shackles of Oslo, which no longer exists in the Israeli government’s program.”
He continues: “The announcement of the suspension of compliance with some of the obligations of Oslo that Israel cares about is consistent with the decisions of the Palestinian Central Council, such as the cessation of security coordination that has already been announced, which must be adhered to in full. Consideration should also be given to the transformation of the current PA, the one created by Oslo, to a PLO-led government of the State of Palestine to rehabilitate that organization, which must be reconstituted and activated as a result of a general election.”
Next: “We must call upon the Arab League to reemphasize the Arab Peace Initiative and to urge the Arab states to stop normalization with Israel.”
And “the PA must embark on a large-scale international diplomatic campaign to secure international recognition of the State of Palestine on the borders of June 1967.”
He eventually gets to the big one: “The Palestinian initiative should take advantage of the contradiction that has begun to appear in public between the position of the US administration and that of the new Israeli government. In particular, we should pay clear attention to the US warnings against any Israeli policy that may undermine the two-state solution and the US opposition to the policy of settlement expansion. This US position was evident in Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s speech at the conference of the moderate Jewish organization, J Street, in Washington on 4 December 2022.”
In other words, after rejecting the Oslo accords, the PA should take advantage of the Biden administration and J street’s concerns about Israeli actions that endanger the Oslo accords.
It’s brilliant if you ask me.
“We should also take note of the apparent contradiction between a large portion of the Jewish community in the US and the Netanyahu government on political matters related to annexation in the West Bank and on domestic issues related to religious imposition and undermining the foundations of democracy and liberalism in Israel,” an astute al-Ajrami proposes.
“Moreover, we must work intensively in the American arena through those bodies in charge of the American desk as well as the Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic diaspora communities. We need to develop relations with the members of Congress of Palestinian and Arab descent to influence the position of the US Administration and Congress and provide mechanisms that could allow for American pressure on Israel, and in international forums.”
And, naturally, “We should work intensively in the Israeli arena, capitalize on the unprecedented internal division in Israel, and coordinate intensively with the opposition to Netanyahu and the Palestinian citizens of Israel to contribute to the mobilization of the Israeli public opinion against the government and its policies.”
Finally: “We should design a Palestinian development plan that aims at strengthening the steadfastness of the Palestinian citizens on their land, especially in Area C, which will be targeted more than ever.”
As a rule, when our enemies publish their plans against us, we should take them at their word. This is the plan, it’s already being implemented, our “full right” government must disrupt it, urgently, at home and abroad.