The Palestinian Spring: A Sobering Look

Marwan Barghouti

Marwan Barghouti joins the UNHRC/Global March on Jerusalem/PLO dog-pile on Israel.

Haaretz describes the Tanzim militia leader’s missive from prison calling for “popular resistance against Israel,” including an end to PA security and economic cooperation, diplomatic and economic boycotts, and a plug for unilateral statehood via the UN.

But this all may have more to do with distracting Palestinians from discontent with their own leaders. In Gaza, Ynet reports of Palestinian efforts on Facebook to organize a general strike protesting Hamas and Fatah handling of the fuel crisis.

You know the Islamists can never allow that to happen.

And in the West Bank, Washington Post reporter Karin Brulliard takes a sobering look at the PA’s plummeting popularity:

In the West Bank, where a construction boom has slowed and unemployment is high, discontent has centered on the Palestinian Authority leadership, including the technocrat prime minister, Salam Fayyad, who introduced tax increases and other austerity measures. Analysts say those steps have contributed to plunging approval ratings for Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas.

Anger over the measures has combined with long-standing criticism that Fayyad’s strategy of building institutions and improving law and order — widely viewed as successful — have not moved the Palestinians closer to statehood. A bid for recognition at the United Nations is stalled, plans to reconcile the two main Palestinian political factions appear frozen, peace talks with Israel have crumbled, and the Obama administration is not publicly pushing the issue.

Earlier this month, the NY Times further elaborated on the Arab Spring and Iranian nuclear tensions further marginalizing the Palestinians.

A Palestinian Spring co-opted by the status-quo powers of Hamas and Fatah is an oxymoron. Everyone knows it. Unable to point to real improvement in daily living, Hamas and the PLO are reverting to what has worked in the past: diverting attention to Israel.

The Israel distraction will unfortunately work — but for a very limited amount of time. On the day after the march, on the day after the UNHRC report, and on the day after Abbas’ letter, Palestinians will again ask their leaders, “What have you done for me lately?”

That’s why Hamas and Fatah are more worried that the next uprising will be known as the Intrafada.

(Image of flag via Flickr/Daquella manera)


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