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Mixed Reactions Among Palestinians To Abbas’ Call For ‘Popular Resistance’

Palestinian Authority leaders tell Palestinians that this form of resistance has proved efficient in fighting Israeli ‘occupation’ on the ground

The Palestinian leadership appears to be changing tactics in its effort to establish a state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. At a closed-door meeting this weekend of the Central Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for an increase in “popular resistance,” which he described as having its own value in “fighting the Israeli occupation.”

“Popular resistance is the suitable form given the current situation of a complete closure of the political horizon,” Hassan Faraj, a member of the PLO’s Revolutionary Committee, told The Media Line. “This form of resistance around the world has proven its efficiency in teaching the occupier a lesson and exposing its crimes to the whole world.”

Palestinians, he added, must have deep faith in what popular resistance can achieve on the ground. “This resistance requires full participation and a united combat platform that defines the type of relations that can be maintained with the enemy and what can take shape after the resistance phase is complete,” Faraj said. “Ending the Israeli occupation with popular resistance doesn’t require a specific time frame. It’s an ongoing process aimed at the paralysis of the occupation and its settlers.”

Responding to these statements, a Palestinian activist who requested anonymity told The Media Line that “popular resistance would not aid the Palestinian cause.”

“Popular resistance is being pushed by the leadership now, which demonstrates the pity the PA has for itself,” he contended, adding that Ramallah has been engaged in formulating U.S. President Donald Trump’s yet-unveiled peace plan, known as the “deal of the century.”

“The PA leadership is taking part in devising the American proposal that will strip many Palestinians of their refugee status and will be the death of the two-state solution,” the activist claimed.

Another Palestinian who spoke to The Media Line privately said that he is against popular resistance because of the current political climate. “Many Palestinians are simply being manipulated by the PA and Hamas. Both do not have national agendas, rather they have foreign ones. I believe we must clean up our own internal affairs before we fight Israel.”

Another Palestinian who did not want to be identified disagreed, arguing that, “resistance, in all its forms, is extremely important for the Palestinian cause.” He further explained that negotiations with “the Zionist entity” have proved ineffective and that Israel understands no other language than resistance.

“Abbas seeks to fan the fire with the Israeli occupation without using any weapon,” Hanna Issa, a Palestinian political analyst, conveyed to The Media Line. “Resistance allows people to vent their frustrations. Israel is working by force to dissolve Palestinian social status and it has worked to a certain extent.”

In this respect, Issa highlighted that the PA’s ability to encourage popular resistance is severely constrained by the Oslo Accords and other international agreements. Nevertheless, he concluded, Palestinians trust the effectiveness popular resistance, which may be the only tool left for them to employ.

Moen al-Taher, a Jordanian political analyst, related to The Media Line that “the meaning of the popular resistance is widening, similar to what happened in the First Intifada,” a mass uprising that took place in the West Bank and Gaza from 1987-1991.

“The resistance of unarmed people includes boycotts, abstention from paying taxes, demonstrations, sit-ins, stone-throwing, obstruction of roads, and civil disobedience,” al-Taher elaborated, before qualifying that “I do not think there is any seriousness in Abbas’s call for Palestinians to adopt popular resistance now as it contradicts the PA’s negotiated arrangements with Israel over security and administrative coordination.”

Abbas, al-Taher concluded, “is trying to show that he has an alternative but everyone knows it is not real. The goal is to redirect popular resentment with the PA towards America or Israel.”