Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations organized a panel discussion under the title “The Implications of the Arab World’s Uprisings on the Palestinian Issue”. The discussion was held at the Centre on Thursday 10/3/2011, and brought together a select of intellectuals and academics in the field of Palestinian and Arab Studies.
Significant among the discussants were:
– Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh, expert in the Palestinian issue and the general manager of Al-Zaytouna Center
– Lebanese MP Brig. Gen. Walid Sukkarieh
– Dr. ‘Abdullah ‘Abdullah, the Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon
– Mr. Osama Hamdan, Head of Hamas’ International Relations Department
– Brig. Gen. Dr. Amin Hoteit, Specialist in the Military Affairs and University Lecturer
– Mr. Anis Nakkach, Political Analyst, Coordinator of Aman Network for Strategic Studies and Research
– Dr. Hussein Abu al-Namel, Researcher and Specialist in Economics
– Mr. Helmi Musa, Journalist and Expert in the Israeli Affairs
– Mr. Suhail al-Natour, Palestinian Writer and Expert in Palestinian Refugees’ Affairs
– Mr. Saqr Abu Fakhr, Researcher at the Institute of Palestine Studies, and Editorial Secretary of the referred Journal of Palestine Studies (JPS)
– Mr. Ali Baraka, Hamas Representative in Lebanon
– Dr. Mohamed Noureddine, Expert in Turkish Affairs
– Mr. Marwan ‘Abdel ‘Al, Representative of the Popular Front for Liberating Palestine (PFLP) in Lebanon,
– Mr. Walid Muhammad Ali, General Manager of Baheth Center for Strategic and Palestinian Studies.
The discussion was divided into two sessions, the first focused on laying the relevant and important informative foundations, and on analyzing the current situation and standings; while the second session considered the possible future scenarios regarding the implications of the developments in the Arab world on the Palestinian and Israeli realms.
The General Manager of Al-Zaytouna Center, Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh, opened the session by welcoming the guests and looking forward to a rich discussion. Saleh said that the changes taking place now in the Middle East are unprecedented throughout the past decades in their scale and domino effect. He added that these developments re-instantiated hope and confidence in millions of Arabs around the world, breaking the border of fear, and re-empowering the public. Inevitably, this will have its implications on the political level, on the governance, and on the individual as well; thus it will become a major contributing factor to the future developments, if not to say a shaping factor by itself.
Saleh stressed that “at such untraditional times, it is expected that such a discussion should break out from the traditional thought routines, going beyond the regular outlines and exploring new horizons; although we acknowledge we are still amid the haze, and the domino movement is yet unsettled in a way or another.”
First Session: Analytical Presentation of the Facts
Discussions in this session revolved about the revolutionary nature of the current developments in the Arab World.
Brig. Gen. Walid Sukkarieh said that we are witnessing today a new generation of Arab revolutions, following the generation of independence revolutions and freedom movements. This “new revolutions generation” is the uprisings of the masses, generally characterized by being peaceful uprisings rather than military coups. These are not organized by political parties but rather by the people who were followed by parties. However, Sukkarieh pointed out the absence of a long-term political vision for these revolutions which face a major challenge: What achievements it could bring to the masses? In this regards, he argued that these movements and revolts would not be able to achieve its goals unless it abolishes rivalries and polarities, and adopts openness on both Arab and regional levels, but away from Israel.
Sukkarieh added that it was too early to tell whether these revolutions would lead to military cooperation to face Israel, and stressed that Egypt would not be able to disengage itself from Camp David since the Egyptian army is not yet ready for a war with Israel, and because the abrogation of the treaty means that Israel would reoccupy Sinai. He noted that the steadfastness of the forces of confrontation would help Egypt fight Israel in the future, and that there would be no Palestinian solution in the light of the Israeli intransigence and the changes in the Arab countries. Sukkarieh also argued that the two-state solution has collapsed, and that the new Egyptian regime would not follow the steps of Mubarak’s regime in fighting resistance movements in the Arab world.
Dr. Abdullah Abdullah called upon the Palestinians to take advantage of the occurring developments and put an end to the recurring controversy of internal strife,” because according to Abdullah “it is not an issue of different political agendas as much as an issue of fanaticism.” He added that the Palestinians are in dire need for uniting their internal front, re-arranging their national agenda, realigning their communiqué and demands in front of the international community, without excuses or equivocation.
Osama Hamdan said that the American regional influence is in deterioration because the public is discontent with the alliance between the US and the corrupt or dictatorship Arab regimes. He considered that the current developments have thwarted the two-state solution after the fragmentation of the moderation front. Hamdan called for restoring the original Palestinian ceiling of demands, that is a Palestinian state from the