When is the Palestinian Spring?

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When President Obama delivered his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, Middle Eastern political analysts criticized its naïveté. His solution to the problem that has been ongoing since the 1948 Palestinian exodus seemed obvious; return Israeli borders to their 1967 locations. But Obama failed to account for the obstinacy of Israeli President Binyamin Netanyahu and the ability of Palestinians to realize these borders for themselves.

Netanyahu, in his pandering to both the international community and his own country, is hoping only to pacify Hamas enough to create more settlements while maintaining borders as they are today. His reaction speech, ostensibly acquiescing to international demands for peace talks, contained few if any changes in Israeli policy, and certainly no incentives for Palestinians to attempt diplomacy. His equivocations are typical of Israeli policy; take advantage of momentary peace to build more settlements, or condemn guerrilla warfare as terrorism in an attempt to denounce the Palestinian cause.

Further complicating matters is the new alliance between Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah, and Hamas, the latter two held responsible for attacks on Israeli settlements. Unlike Fatah, Hamas is an internationally recognized terrorist organization. Its status as such is impeding Palestine’s ability to declare autonomy. It is Hamas that refused Palestinian calls for a democratic election in early 2011, Hamas that gives Palestine its bad name. Were Palestinians to universally oust Hamas, their campaign for autonomy would be far more successful.

Palestine is up against numerous opponents. Hamas is the equivalent of the Taliban, a desperate solution put in place by a desperate people. Netanyahu’s pacifying statements are an apathetic enemy, and Palestinian faith in his ability to deliver is waning.

Palestine’s last enemy is, ironically, itself. While the people of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria took to the streets to protest oppressive regimes, Palestinians continued business as usual, existing alongside but separate from the Arab Spring. Palestinian inaction during this historic period sends a message to the international community that they are complacent with Netanyahu’s empty promises, Hamas’ terrorism, and the near-condescension of foreign authorities.

But the people of Palestine are growing louder. The May 17th anniversary of Nakba sparked marches across Israeli borders, exiled Palestinians holding symbolic keys aloft. Peaceful demonstrations can only increase international faith in Palestine, leading to the near universal acceptance of its autonomy.

An angry peace will prevail in the Arab Spring . Palestine will succeed by remaining peaceful, but forceful. Only then will Netanyahu consider the demands of the Palestinian people.

Click here to read a differing opinion by Daniel Cooper ’13.

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