It is painful and unfortunate that the Palestinian division has continued for more than ten years.
What is more unfortunate is that the length of the division period and the failure of reconciliation attempts have meant that the current reconciliation efforts have been preoccupied with axioms and their details.
These include matters such as the unity government assuming power and responsibilities, the mechanisms of operating the border crossings, when and how the measures taken as a result of the division would be annulled, and when the Gazans will enjoy more hours of electricity, instead of concentrating on the strategic objectives to end division and achieve reconciliation.
Among the most important of these objectives is the necessity of building a consensus on a unified national strategy to confront the Israeli attack that aims at liquidating the Palestinian cause.
This should be done through activating the factors that assist in changing the balance of power in favour of the Palestinian people. These include: the mechanisms of consensus on forms of struggle and their timing; the way that fateful political decisions are taken; the essence of the Palestinian people's national programme after all that Palestine has witnessed during the last 24 years since signing the Oslo Agreement; and guaranteeing the participation of all the Palestinian factions in joint struggle instead of infighting.
Perhaps some of the most important strategic issues are the agreement on a mechanism of organising Palestine's internal structure, whether on the level of the broader framework of a national liberation movement that is still struggling for freedom, independence, return of refugees and putting an end to the racial apartheid regime, or on the level of administering the lives of the people through whatever is available of the desired authority or state constituents.
This means that all the forces join the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) so as their governing bodies form the framework of the unified national leadership, setting the election dates and mechanisms in order that the Palestinian people regain their democratic right to choose their representatives and guarantee the recovery of the principle of separation of powers: the executive, legislative and judicial powers. This is impossible to achieve without a strong and effective legislative council.
One of the most important strategic issues that requires consensus is how to manage Palestinian resources with the aim of supporting the survival and steadfastness of the Palestinian people on their homeland and creating an economy of resistance in the fullest sense.
This means combating poverty and unemployment, assigning the youth with a developmental sector that opens up opportunities that relate to their competencies, enhancing the capabilities of steadfastness in the face of settlement colonialism, the discrimination wall and apartheid.
This also includes challenging the situation imposed by the occupation in Jerusalem, Hebron and what’s called the “C” areas and backing the Gaza Sector’s steadfastness in the face of the blockade, with the aim of removing it.
Besides the conditions of sincerity of intentions and the acceptance of the partnership principle – meaning the abandonment of one party or one group monopolising power over any place – what the reconciliation needs in order to succeed is the ability to manage the reconciliation operation in a way that concentrates on perceiving the external challenges and the outer sphere and engaging with them.
This should also replace the biggest preoccupation, which is the internal conflict and competition, whether the competition is in the liberation movement’s leadership or administering what remains of the authority’s constituent parts.
It is clear that moving from one pattern of rule to another is not easy, but it is the only way to guarantee that we avoid repeating what has happened previously.
It is true that the National Reconciliation Agreement signed in Cairo 2011 includes many details that do not need to be renegotiated. It is basically a mistake to negotiate it once again. It is also true that Egypt has put its weight behind making the reconciliation operation succeed.
But translating this into an actual and comprehensive achievement requires elevating the entire operation to a strategic level that concentrates on confronting the challenges facing the Palestinian people.
If the political pluralism and diversity of Palestine is an element of power that has been transformed into an element of weakness during times of division, the reconciliation means the acceptance of democracy as a principle.
This is an extremely easy matter in independent countries. However, it is much more difficult when it involves a country living under occupation and subjected to endless external interventions, few of which are well intentioned, and many of which bear dangerous and harmful intentions toward the Palestinian people’s interests.
Perhaps the complicatedness of the Palestinian situation results from the fact that the reconciliation negotiations are conducted concerning two overlapping processes simultaneously due to historical circumstances: leading the operation and the liberation movement against the occupation; and administering a limited but existent authority that affects the people's daily lives.
Whenever this authority approaches performing its supposed role, which is to serve the national struggle and not the other way round, it faces growing dangers.
I won’t engage in detailing the positive factors that make the opportunity of reconciliation this time bigger than on previous occasions, the most important of which is the opinion of the Palestinian people, which can’t be ignored.
I think it is inappropriate to continue adopting a pessimistic outlook, which has become chronic among some people. Rather, the moral duty, national responsibility and caring for the future of the Palestinian people requires that those involved in the reconcilitation process put past fears and pains aside and deal with all issues from one basic point of departure, which is the strategic challenge facing the Palestinian people and its cause.
The writer is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative.