February 6, 2018 Special Dispatch No. 7319

Egyptian Researcher In Al-Ahram Article: The Palestinians Should Make The Best Deal They Can With Israel, Even If It Isn't Just

February 6, 2018
Egypt, Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 7319

In a December 21, 2017 article in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, Dr. Gamal 'Abd Al-Gawwad, a researcher at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies and a lecturer in Political Science at Cairo University, advised Palestinians to forego the armed resistance against Israel, which he described as futile and hopeless. He said that instead, they should consolidate a strategy of non-violent resistance which would be supported internationally and undermine Israel's legitimacy, while also conducting effective negotiations. Calling on the Palestinians to recognize the prevailing balance of power on the ground, 'Abd Al-Gawwad urged them to sign the best possible agreement that they can achieve, even if it is not a just agreement. "Preserving as many as possible of the Palestinian rights is preferable to waiting for a just solution which will restore all the rights that were lost by the [Palestinians'] fathers and grandfathers," he wrote. He added that this would require joint leadership by Fatah and Hamas, which should transcend their narrow interests and behave intelligently.

Dr. Gamal 'Abd Al-Gawwad (Source:, May 11, 2014)

The following are translated excerpts from his article:

"Declarations against; conferences that conclude with vehement condemnations; decisions adopted by the UN General Assembly after the U.S. vetoes a proposal submitted to the Security Council; demonstrations; stone-throwing; martyrdom [of Palestinians] and the arrests of others by the occupation forces – all these took place following the Trump announcement, but Jerusalem and all of Palestine are still under occupation…

"Our responses [to the Trump announcement] tell the world that the Arabs are outraged at the contempt with which their rights are treated, and this is a positive thing. But our responses also reveal that the value of our actions is limited and they are not effective, and this is very bad. Is there a way to move from the phase of expressing fury to the phase of effective action, [or] in other words, to move to the phase of liberating the largest possible amount of Arab land from the Israeli occupation…?

"It isn't easy to give advice to the Palestinians, since they have already tried everything that can be attempted over the seventy years of occupation. They have fought a guerrilla war… hijacked planes and taken hostages, assassinated the leaders of the enemy, perpetrated suicide attacks, demonstrated, and thrown stones… The Palestinians have refused to recognize Israel and boycotted every forum in which it participated… and they have also changed their position toward it, recognized it, held negotiations, and conducted security coordination with it. The Palestinians have done everything that could be done by means of fighting and negotiation, and despite this their rights are still denied them and their land is still stolen. This is a truly discouraging situation. So what can be done?

"What is required is resistance, which must be smart, and negotiations, so long as they are effective. This is [what is required], on condition that the resistance and the negotiations are part of a single political strategy. This is the most important lesson from 70 years of suffering and struggle. Israel will not relinquish one inch of land to the Palestinians unless it is forced to do so; and it will not make even one concession unless making that concession is more in its interest than refraining from making it. I am referring to a Palestinian strategy that will create a combination of pressure and incentives.

"The Palestinians must maintain ruthless resistance, using methods that the Israelis won't be able to withstand. They must desist from armed resistance, since the occupation excels at the use of weapons above all. The Palestinians cannot defeat Israel on the military level – all the weapons they have been given [to date] have not [yet] liberated even one inch of Palestinian land, nor will they do so in the future. If the Palestinians were to decide to unilaterally to lay down their arms, the occupation would not continue for even one [additional] day, and the international support would swing substantially in their favor.

"Smart Palestinian resistance is non-violent resistance, where the cameras will record the death of unarmed Palestinian victims without so much as a stone in their hands… Smart resistance makes material sacrifices so as to cause political damage and hurt the enemy's morale. The purpose of this resistance is to undermine the legitimacy of the occupation and to expose its [lack of] morality; it is the most effective way to leverage the increasing empathy of the international community and international civil society toward the Palestinian cause. Non-violent resistance is not something new for the Palestinians. They already attempted it successfully during the first intifada. They need only to learn from that experience and build on it, taking current events into account.

"The smart resistance must be accompanied by effective negotiations. Effective negotiations are negotiations that advance steadily toward achievement of the goal, rather than sparring with the enemy [to no effect]. Effective negotiations accurately interpret the balance of power, recognize it... and leverage all the bargaining chips that strengthen [the Palestinian] position so as to achieve the best possible deal. The best agreement that the Palestinians can achieve [in the given situation] is undoubtedly an unjust agreement, but it is an agreement that will preserve what remains of Jerusalem and all the land that is occupied. Preserving as many as possible of the Palestinian rights is preferable to waiting for a just solution that will restore all the rights that were lost by the [Palestinians'] fathers and grandfathers, and that [their] sons will lose in the future if they continue to think and to behave in the same way.

"Smart resistance and effective negotiations require intelligence and a Palestinian leadership that transcends petty [disputes between] the factions. Only joint leadership by Fatah and Hamas can develop and implement this strategy. In the absence of honest cooperation between the two, [empty] slogans will continue to circulate, and Palestinian politics will continue to be dominated by [Hamas and Fatah's] mutual sabotage and meaningless achievements at [each another's] expense, [and the war between these two] ideological rivals which will continue to be more important [to them] than any victory over Israel."

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