I believe that the PPD (Palestinian Prisoner’s Document) could possibly be the Palestinian response to Ariel Sharon’s plan of Disengagement, Israel knew was coming. Not to trivialize the conflict, but it has all the characteristics of a master chess game, but with the addition of multiple players. The fact that this document did not come from the offices of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, but from the confines of an Israeli jail, could give it a “veneer of respectability” abroad. Barghouti and his fellow cell mates have reached a consensus on eighteen points, that seeks to unify the numerous factions not only within the Palestinian Authority, but also the Arab League and their international supporters as well.
While unity/unite is only mentioned three times, there are eight points that focus on consolidating the various Palestinian factions to work collectively, in achieving their stated aims (that really contain nothing new). The PPD’s focus is on unity and consolidation of existing forces, to work locally and internationally with the hopes of mounting renewed pressure on Israel in both arenas, in attempt to offset the gains made by Sharon’s disengagement policy. What the document is calling for, is an united terrorist front.
I personally don’t believe that it will succeed, the various Arab factions are more content on competing with each other, than practicing a cohesive united front. When you come right down to it, all the differing Arab clans have their own interests at stake, and shows that the “Palestinian people” as a national group, does not enjoy any measure of ‘loyalty or ‘national cohesiveness’ from the majority of the ruling families within the PA. According to Khaled Abu Toameh, a Palestinian Arab journalist who works for the Jerusalem Post:
“The linkage between Gaza and the West Bank is more in the minds of Western diplomats and even Israelis than in the culture of the Palestinians. The West Bank feels more Jordanian, Gaza more Egyptian. They are “two separate entities,” Mr. Abu Toameh said, reporting that in 1994, when Arafat tried to bring Palestinian policemen from Gaza to Ramallah, the Gazans were kicked out in five days. The dialect is different and intermarriage is extremely rare.”
Perhaps doing time in prison sharpens the senses, allowing the inmate to focus on “the big picture”, than on any divisions that may exist between them(terrorism is one common ground they all share). Transferring those ideas into the real world of Palestinian politics however, will be no small effort, where its every faction for themselves. Ironically, its unity (but a non violent one) that Israel has been pushing for some time now with Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. That there needs to be one government, one gun and one voice with whom Israel can enter into negotiations.
This is the main argument behind former Israeli PM, Ariel Sharon’s disengagement policy. That the lack of interest in dismantling the terrorist infrastructure, along with the total disunity in the Palestinian national movement has created an environment in which Israel no longer has a partner for peace. The election of a terrorist parliament was the final straw. Israel will now concentrate on its own security through the protective measure of the anti-terror barrier, and targeted strikes against the terrorist leadership, and wait for mature leadership in the Palestinian Authority to develop.
I don’t view the document by Barghouti and his fellow cell mates with any sense of worry, the document is really saying the same things that Abbas has been saying for some time now, the only difference is that its coming from an Israeli jail. Hopefully, in spite of some of the ridiculous points the document contains, as well as the call for more violence, there are signs of hope.
“11. Abiding by democracy and holding free and fair elections for the presidency, the parliament and municipalities.”
This, more than anything else in the document, contains the seeds of hope for an eventual peace with Israel, by also containing the seeds of doom for a continual radicalized Palestinian people. A government that is forced to listen to its people, cannot remain radical for ever. KGS
Update: Article by Alon Ben-Meir “How much longer?”, spells it out in much the same way:
“Sixty years of factionalism, intrigue, and infighting have only produced more discord and deepening internal conflict. Tens of thousands of able-bodied young men are idling on the dusty streets, the poor are despairing, the better off have no place to turn to, while the average man and woman wonders aloud what in the name of God is happening and why. This self-inflicted, festering social and political wound threatens to erode what is left of Palestinian civil society.
Tragically, however, in the face of this reality, nearly every Palestinian faction and splinter group seems more concerned with its own selfish narrow interest. Many use lofty terms like “national unity” and “patriotism” to camouflage their incompetence and ineptitude. For how much longer will these leaders continue to blame Israel, each other, and the world for their own shortcomings and for worsening plight of their people? And for how much longer must the people wait to realize their national redemption…….? ” More here.