It didn’t take long for different Palestinian factions to realize that fighting Israel was a sure shortcut to hitting several birds with one stone. This shortcut includes a guaranteed statement of legitimacy, a way around internal conflicts, and a shield against the regional and Arab influences that have accompanied the modern Palestinian struggle since its inception and sought to take control of its national autonomy.
Fatah, formerly known as the Palestinian National Liberation Movement and now the head and backbone of the national effort, gained legitimacy by “firing the first bullet.” It was neither the most organized nor the most popular national faction when it did, but its Palestinian identity and call to armed struggle let it to lead the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), giving Fatah popular legitimacy and the PLO official legitimacy.
The Steadfastness and Confrontation Front in the 1970s and the Palestinian National Salvation Front in the 1980s would begin military declarations with statements like “in response to a defeatist approach” or “in response to the compromised response of the influential leadership” and then discuss or detail a military operation.
Opposing factions at the time had no intention of pointing their guns at the “influential leadership” though, but instead at Israel.
Opposing factions at the time had no intention of pointing their guns at the “influential leadership” though, but instead at Israel, despite the differences between them. This didn’t completely eliminate tensions or even heavy bloodshed between factions. Though these sorts of incidents were the exception.
The “influential leadership” has always been swayed by those close to it. Yasser Arafat, the late former Chairman of the PLO, ignited the insurgency of South Lebanon against Israel, simultaneous with the final session of the Palestinian National Council – the legislative body of the PLO – in Damascus, which had met at a rare moment of Iraqi-Syrian rapprochement.
Iraq’s Tariq Aziz and Syria’s Abdul Halim Khaddam had no trouble coordinating attacks on Fatah and Arafat’s leadership. Escaping the grip of the Palestinian National Covenant was not possible in those days without escalating armed conflict with Israel, keeping Fatah as it was and chanting of revolution.
What fuels this discussion is the ongoing debate about the possibility of Palestine joining the train of the Arab Spring.
What fuels this discussion is the ongoing debate about the possibility of Palestine joining the train of the Arab Spring, which is gaining steam as it travels from one country to another. Some hail its arrival to Palestine, arguing that the conditions that created the Arab revolutions exist in Gaza and the West Bank; others talk of a “Palestinian exception” which results from the ongoing Israeli occupation and the tendency to always blame it for Palestinian troubles. The Israeli presence is the more dominant of two ruling powers, neither of which are sovereign or authoritative on the West Bank or Gaza.
However, the talk of exception is correct. Palestinian factions have in all their differences distracted Palestinians from the parties’ weaknesses, failures, shortcomings, and the corrupt “dual” leadership, which Aaron Miller, an expert on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, likened to Noah’s Ark.
Under this dual leadership, there are two of each—one in Gaza and the other in Ramallah. It’s fine for now at least, that resistance is directed at the occupation or at settlers, or that missiles are launched from Gaza. Until Palestinians get organized again, no voice is louder than that of anti-occupational resistance.
But it is also true that the situation will change when Palestinians realize that resistance to occupation with the current leadership and factions is not possible, and that these frameworks – once an asset – have become a burden. Then, and only then, can the Arab Spring arrive in Palestine, or more specifically, the West Bank and Gaza.
 Opening of revolutionary song for Fatah.