By Yousef Alhelou
When the Oslo accords were signed in 1994 between the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israel’s prime minster at that time Ytzhak Rabin, it was hoped that Palestinians would have their own independent state within five years.
The agreement was reached in order to put an end to 7 years of uprising against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.
The “first ” Intifada or what was known as “the uprising of the stones” that was broke out in 1987 has stopped in order to give a chance to peace negotiations.
The Gaza–Jericho Agreement, officially called Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area, of 4 May 1994 was a follow-up treaty to the Oslo I Accord in which details of Palestinian autonomy were concluded.
The Treaty provided for limited Palestinian self-rule in West Bank and Gaza Strip within five years. Pursuant to the Agreement, Israel promised to withdraw partly from Jericho in the West Bank and partly from the Gaza Strip, within three weeks from the date of the signing. The Palestinian Authority was created, of which Yasser Arafat became the first president on 5 July 1994
As part of the agreement, Israeli forces were withdrawn from the streets of Gaza and were redeployed to protect the colonies that existed in the coastal strip before the 2005 unilateral withdrawal. The Palestinian Authority took administration of Gaza but with no sovereignty on borders.
I remember how Palestinians in Gaza took to the streets to celebrate the signing of the peace agreement. I remember how kids were waving olives branches and Palestinian flags as Israeli soldiers in the streets of the Gaza strip were observing the celebrations, I was 15 at that time.
Over 20 years have passed since then, but Palestinians still have no recognized independent state, Israel continues to confiscate Palestinian lands, expand its Jewish settlements across the occupied West Bank, Judaize East Jerusalem and build the separation Wall.
In 2014, new rounds of endless negotiation talks and meeting between Israeli and Palestinian officials mediated by the US administration are just another phase in an endless peace process.
It’s clear that Israel is buying time, but the frustrations are growing among ordinary Palestinians, people are no longer believe that Israel is interested in making peace.
From time to time, we hear some calls from some Palestinians to dissolve the Palestinian Authority and let Israel hold its responsibility towards the people under its occupation.
The Palestinian Authority which is in control of some parts of the occupied West Bank is often described as a security agent to protect the Israeli security.
Gaza has been under the rule of “Hamas” since 2007, as people voted for it in January of 2006 and the Islamic party won the parliamentary elections. Although “the resistance movement” was against the Oslo peace agreement but still wanted to take part in the Palestinian Authority. That was a contradiction between opposing the negotiations and wanting to have political power.
The Islamic party won the parliamentary elections in January 2006 and defeated its rival-Fatah party-led by the president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.
Longtime tensions between Hamas and Fatah boiled over in a week of fighting in 2007 that left the Islamist movement in control of Gaza. They effectively divided the Palestinian territories in two.
The two sides have made repeated attempts to heal the rift, including an Egyptian-brokered deal in 2011 in which they agreed to make way for an interim government of independents to organize fresh elections throughout the territories. The agreement has never been implemented.
It seems that reaching national reconciliation and ending the division was a mission impossible on part of the two main rival factions, both parties that have different ideologies have failed the Palestinian nation for years, most recently in 2012, when they signed two agreements, one in Cairo and a subsequent one in Doha, which have as of yet not been entirely unimplemented.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has been trying to push Israel and the Palestinians towards a framework agreement ahead of an agreed April deadline.
Kerry is breaking new travel records with his 49 trips to the region to push both sides to resume the peace talks, but as talks with Israel reach yet another stalemate, the Palestinian people who live in s taste of limbo, question the credibly of Palestinian negotiators.
The Palestinian Authority is blamed for the hardships of Palestinians.
The political rivalry between Hamas and Fatah continue to sabotage Palestinian unity and chances of statehood. Palestinian unity is Israel’s greatest fear.
Corruption and internal mismanagement are affecting daily life in the West Bank and Gaza
The Palestinian leadership must adapt a new strategy in order to finally improve the quality of life for the Palestinian people and help them to be steadfast in the face of the occupation polices of Israeli that owns 3,000 military tanks, 2,000 warplanes, nuclear weapons and the full support by the US administration.
It came as no surprise as Moshe Ya’alon, Israeli defense minister who said recently: ” I hope we can reach an agreement with the Palestinians, if not, we will manage”.
Now such a statement gives the impression that the policy of buying time on part of Israel will continue. This might mean another 20 years of so-called peace talks will be wasted.
In the middle of the futile peace process, many Palestinians say that the PA must act as a responsible leadership and stop gambling with the national rights of the Palestinian people.
Yes, I have to say that we have a weak leadership, which is being blackmailed, and which relies on financial support from the US.
Fatah believes in peace as the only option to achieve the aspirations of the Palestinian people, whereas Hamas and other factions such as Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the liberation of Palestine believe that the armed struggle is the only option to liberate occupied Palestinian land. Other groups such as the Palestinian National Initiative led by Mustapha Barghouti, advocates for popular struggle, believing that it is the most effective form of resistance, this non-violent struggle is gaining momentum among different sectors within the civil society organizations as well as some youth movements both in Gaza and the West Bank.
Palestinian political factions namely Fatah and Hamas have to form an internal front and realize that they must work togother. They must put the national interests of the Palestinian people above their factional considerations.
If they fail to make concessions towards achieving national reconciliation, then this divided leadership will fail its people for sure.
Yousef Alhelou, Freelance Palestinian journalist and film maker from Gaza city, a media researcher at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University. His research is about the rise of citizen journalists in Palestine, especially in Gaza and their impact on changing the public perception of Palestine in the West. He can be contacted on email@example.com