In his January 2, 2017 column in the official Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, titled "The Palestinians Have No [Choice] But Peace," journalist Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh criticized Palestinian factions that advocate armed resistance, such as Hamas and radical left-wing factions, on the grounds that relying on such resistance and rejecting the option of peace is political suicide. He called on these factions to realize that the two-state solution is the only option that is feasible and is backed by most of the world's countries – especially given the existing circumstances, with the U.S. Congress expressing pro-Israel positions, and the Arab world, preoccupied with more pressing crises, no longer intensely concerned with the Palestinian cause. A stubborn insistence on armed resistance will only end up hurting the Palestinians themselves, he concluded.
Aal Al-Sheikh's column sparked diverse responses on Twitter, some supporting his opinion and others opposing it. The following are excerpts from his column, and a sampling of the reactions.
Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh: Only Political Ignoramuses Advocate Armed Resistance; The Two-State Solution Is The Only Feasible Option
Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh (image: image: kn19.com)
"Seven out of the ten biggest [donors] supporting the [candidates] in U.S. congressional elections are Jews; moreover, the Jewish organization AIPAC is the most influential and important lobby in the U.S. These two facts together transform the U.S. Congress into a parliament that protects Israel and helps it [even] more than the Israeli Knesset itself does. I think that many Arabs, especially the Palestinians in Gaza who purport to be devout Muslims [i.e., Hamas], do not understand this reality and its implications: it means that Israel derives its power and its global status from the U.S., which is practically the most powerful country on earth. Russia – which some Arabs have begun betting on as the [potential solution] to their problems – likewise sees Israel as a red line due to the power and influence of the Jews there. The same goes for the E.U. countries, as well as Britain, Canada and Australia.
"In light of this, it can be said that relying on armed resistance to confront all of these global powers, while making the option of peace, especially the two-state solution, a more remote possibility – as implied by the statements of radical Palestinians nationalists and of those purporting to be devout – constitutes a kind of political suicide that only political ignoramuses [can] condone.
"I know the Israelis oppose the proposal of the two-state solution and attempt to evade it. [Moreover,] this position of theirs was recently endorsed by the U.S. Congress, when it denounced the forceful resolution [recently passed] by the Security Council against the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank... without so much as mentioning the two-state solution. But I believe that the two-state solution is the only available solution that can be demanded and which enjoys the support of most of the international community.
"The insistence of the left-wing nationalists and the politically-biased people who purport to be devout, whether Sunni or Shi'ite, on calling for resistance ultimately serves the interests of the Israeli right. [This insistence] provides [the Israeli right] with excuses that strengthen its position, which [seeks to] prove that the Palestinians do not want peace or a solution [to the conflict], but rather war. Another thing the Palestinians need to understand is that the Arabs of today are not the Arabs of yesterday, and that the Palestinian cause has lost ground among Arabs. This cause is no longer a top priority for them, because civil wars are literally pulverizing four Arab countries, and because fighting the 'Islamic' terrorism is the foremost concern that causes all Arabs, without exception, to lose sleep. It is folly to ask someone to sacrifice [tending to] his own problems and national interests in order to help [you solve] your own problems..."
"All I can say to my Palestinian brethren is that stubbornness, contrariness, and betting on the [support of] the Arab masses are a hopeless effort, and that ultimately you are the only ones who will pay the price of this stubbornness and contrariness."
Contrasting Responses To Aal Al-Sheikh's Column: Peace Requires Concessions; There Can Be No Peace With The Occupier
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Aal Al-Sheikh's column, which he also shared on his Twitter account, sparked many responses from other Twitter users. While some of the responders agreed with him and echoed his criticism of the Palestinian factions, others expressed outrage and support for Palestinian resistance.
A user named 'Omar Abu Bakr tweeted: "Reasonable words, especially the claim that Arab attention has been diverted away from the Palestinian cause due to the Arabs' domestic problems and their opposition to the Iranian infiltration [of Arab countries]."
User 'Adel Al-Maliki Al-Yafa'i, from Riyadh, tweeted: "Well said, Mr. Muhammad. If the Palestinians want to live in peace, they have no choice but to make concessions, because neither the Arabs nor the Palestinians themselves are any use [in realizing any other option]" In another tweet, he added: "[Even] if Israel withdrew from all the occupied territories, we would still see the Palestinians fighting each other, because Fatah wants to rule and Hamas thinks it is worthier [of that role]..."
A Saudi called Al-Hussein Muti' wrote: "The main [message] of this article is that Hamas must openly declare its agreement to the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders and forget the slogan 'from the river to the sea.'"
This last tweet sparked a heated response from user Muhammad Mutafail, who tweeted, "Hamas is the only one confronting the occupation. You should stand by them and support them against the occupation. [Instead] you have become an opponent of theirs who calls on them to submit to the occupier!" In another tweet he attacked Aal Al-Sheikh: "Go to hell, you depraved supporter of the Zionists. Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, the Arabs and the Muslims alone. There can be no peace with an occupier, and what was taken by force will only be taken back by force."
A Palestinian user, Badr Madoukh, likewise came out against Aal Al-Sheikh's column in several tweets. One of them said: "...What would you have said if your country, your land and your home had been taken by force and you and your family had been expelled from them and sent into exile?!"
Criticism was also voiced by Jamal Rayyan, a presenter on the Al-Jazeera channel, who shared Aal Al-Sheikh's column on his Twitter page with the comment: "Given the Arab-Israeli reality he describes, this journalist should have called on the Palestinians not to sign any capitulation agreement until this reality changes."
 Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), January 24, 2017.
 Twitter.com/omarabubaker907, January 24, 2017.
 Twitter.com/ADELSH711. January 24, 2017.
 Twitter.com/abuayman35, January 24, 2017.
 Twitter.com/mohammad1343m, January 24, 2017.
 Twitter.com/Bader_Madoukh, January 25, 2017.
 Twitter.com/jamalrayyan, January 24, 2017.