The total strike on Thursday, 27 April, reminded us of the first days of the first Intifada, especially that it comprised the whole of the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Sector.
On Friday, popular confrontations against occupation forces erupted in tens of villages and cities. Thus, these confrontations confirmed the new rise of popular resistance in compatibility with the escalation of the boycott movement of the occupation’s commodities and products.
If the captives’ strike has succeeded in unifying the Palestinian popular struggle in way that transcends political division between the PLO and Hamas, it also asserted that the strategy of confronting the occupation and changing the balance of power with it through unified popular struggle and boycott, is the alternative to the losing bet on the illusion of negotiations with the Netanyahu government.
In other words, the popular rise in solidarity with the captives asserted the unity of struggle instead of division based on a conflict over authority still under occupation.
Moreover, it emphasised the importance of self-reliance instead of depending on others' approaches. It proved the preferential priority of the national struggle, instead of participating in unequal negotiations that have failed time and again.
A year and a half ago, the Jerusalem Intifada stirred the Palestinian youth to awaken in popular resistance. Similarly, the captives’ strike invigorated popular resistance but through focusing on collective popular struggle, not individual struggle.
We are confident that the captives’ strike will end with their triumph and the fulfillment of their demands and this popular rally around them will accelerate reaching these objectives.
However, it’s important that after the captives’ triumph and as we are approaching the 50th anniversary of the West Bank and Gaza Sector’s occupation and starting the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian people’s Nakba (Catastrophe) and the displacement of its sons and daughters, that the popular resistance and boycott movement escalate and that the unity of struggle deepens for the sake of larger objectives.
On top of these objectives comes ending the occupation and overthrowing the apartheid regime and racial discrimination against the Palestinian people.
It is high time that all embrace a unified struggle strategy, concentrating on changing the balance of power not adapting with its imbalance. It is also high time that all political and societal forces throw their weight behind this strategy and towards the objective of ending the occupation in order that the rise of the popular resistance not be transient, transitional or seasonal.
The Palestinian people and its popular and official institutions stand today at a crossroads. The captives’ strike and the rise of popular struggle drive us towards the path of struggle and the fight for freedom, dignity and real independence.
The projects of Israel, those supporting Israel and those who have mutual interests with the occupation or those who have adapted to it, attempt to push the Palestinian people towards succumbing to the occupation’s injustice and racial discrimination.
This is done one time through talking about economic facilities and another time by replacing the idea of an independent state with a self-governing system intended for reservations and Bantustans. A third time through propagating the illusion of new negotiations with the Netanyahu government while settlement activities are continuing and expanding.
Many times it is done through attempts to exert shameful pressure for the sake of denying the valiant captives’ and the martyrs’ families’ rights and allocations. It reached the extent of denying the national discourse and Palestinian thought through talking about what they call “incitement”, in an attempt to distort the Palestinian narrative after falsification of the narrative on the international level.
Many peoples before us faced the same choice. But as Algeria, India under Gandhi’s leadership and South Africa under the leadership of Mandela and the African National Congress have chosen the path of freedom and dignity, the people of Palestine is capable of choosing the same option.
The option of freedom and human dignity.
The option of the future, instead of dangling in a painful and gloomy past.
The writer is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative.