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Al-Quds Center for Political Studies and Applied Science Private University organize a brainstorming session titled "The Aftermath of the Third Israeli War on Gaza"
Jordanian and Palestinian participants evaluate the results of war and their impact on the track of both, the negotiations with Israel and Palestinian reconciliation
Warnings of repeating Gaza's scenario in the West Bank and its repercussions for Jordan's security and stability
Amman, September 2, 2014: Within the framework of the "memorandum of understanding," recently signed by the two teams of Al-Quds Center for Political Studies and Applied Science Private University, the two teams organized a brainstorming session titled "The Aftermath of the Third Israeli War on Gaza" in the presidency building of the university on Saturday, September 1, 2014. Around thirty Jordanian and Palestinian MPs, academics, government officials, and leaders of political parties participated in this event.
Participants' discussions tackled two main themes. While the first theme was titled "The Impact of War on the Palestinian Scene," the second theme's discussions focused on "Jordan and the Repercussions of the War on Gaza." Both, the General Director of Masarat Center for Research and Public Policies/Ramallah, Mr. Hani Al-Masri, and the General Director of Muattin Institution and professor at Bir Zeit University, Dr. George Juqman, presented two introductory interventions for the first theme's discussions. His Excellency, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abdul Ilah Al-Khatib, presented the introductory intervention for the second theme's discussion.
The first theme's discussions revolved around the impact of war on the Palestinian political regime, the future of the national reconciliation, and Hamas/the Jihad movement's position in the authorities' organizations. The discussions also tackled how war changed the positions and weightiness of the various Palestinian factions and how it influenced public opinion's orientations. Discussants pointed out the lessons which all Palestinian parties should obtain from the experience of this most recent war in order to build a mutual national strategy that recognizes creating consensus and preserves Palestinian pluralism at the same time. They also stressed the importance of creating wide consensus about a mutual national program in addition to consensus about forms of strife and resistance which Palestinians should go through in order to gain their legitimate national rights.
At a certain point, participants noted that this most recent war, unlike the previous ones, showed the depth of Palestine's people and factions' national unity, revived the national unity spirit of the Palestinian people around the world, and brought back the Palestinian issue to the top priority list of the region and international community after it had been marginalized and forgotten for the past few years.
Participants expressed their appreciation for Palestinians' steadfastness in facing the Israeli aggression, their success in preventing Israel from achieving its goals, and the step forward they made towards "deterring" the Israeli aggression and setting new rules of engagement. Nonetheless, participants warned against "exaggerating" the inflation of Gaza's triumph and promoting the impression that Palestinians have got all their demands achieved. They pointed out that the list of Palestinians' legitimate demands and rights is still being discussed and negotiated, and the Palestinian journey of freedom and independence, lifting the blockade of the Gaza Strip, and reconstruction is still lengthy and paved with difficulties and challenges.
Participants also broached the impact of war on the "negotiation option" and the "two-state solution." The vast majority of participants suggested that with Israel's policy of expansionary settlement and the growing role of its extreme national and religious right-wing, there is no room for the negotiation option which may lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as the capital. This compels Palestinians and Arabs to continue building powers and abilities to force Israel to end its occupation, aggression, and the Palestinian land and rights' blockade.
Participants unanimously agreed on the necessity of integrating Palestine into international organizations, referring the Palestinian issue to the United Nations, and calling for a continuous international conference to take the Palestinian issue out of the American unilateralism and exclusivity grip. They also warned against the consequences of going back to the fruitless negotiation option which is not associated at all with removing the occupation within a specific time frame. Many participants' interventions suggested that Israel took a one-sided step in the West Bank, aiming to cut off the track of the "two-state solution" and pressures to establish an independent Palestinian state within the territories which were occupied in 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital. This hypothetical step poses a serious threat to Palestine and Jordan equally.
Participants also discussed the Arab and regional influence on the course of war and its outcome, as well as the long-term truce negotiations Cairo shall witness in the coming days or weeks. There was consensus on the need to keep the Palestinian issue separate from Arab and regional conflicts and negotiations, as the Palestinian issue still has the ability to unite the Arab public opinion and is bigger than any faction, state or conflict. Participants warned the Palestinian factions of repeating the same mistake of interfering in Arab internal affairs and of supporting a certain group against another.
With great attention, participants noted the broadening campaigns of denounce and international boycott against Israel and particularly stressed the need to strengthen these campaigns and involve Arab governments and communities more deeply within them, considering these campaigns an element of intensive pressure on Israel which has become concerned about stripping its occupation and presence of legitimacy. Within this context, participants emphasized the importance of prosecuting Israel in every international juristic platform for the war and against humanity crimes it committed in Gaza and Palestine. They also called on pulling out the national dimension of the Palestinian issue.
Participants expressed their concern about dispelling the gains of war and the image of the Palestinian national unity that was glowing at the battlefield and in Cairo's negotiations, after bitterly noticing the return of division manifestations and accusations between the authorities and Hamas. They stressed that the success of Palestinians in managing important negotiations about boosting the Palestinian rights and demands requires unity of stance, means, and will. Projects of Gaza's reconstruction, which is the first priority on the agenda of the Palestinian people, will not succeed unless Palestinians succeed to crystallize their will into a national, independent assembly which prioritizes the public interest over narrow factional interests and over any regional conflicts or considerations.
Participants stressed the need to activate the temporary leadership framework of the Palestine Liberation Organization and make it interim at least, as a reference for decision-making of war and peace and a source of policies related to the Palestinian matter. This comes to imply that no one is able to claim legitimacy or manage the Palestinian national affairs individually, and that policies of cancellation, exclusion, and marginalization will bring nothing to Palestinians but grave consequences.
Within the second theme, "Jordan and the Repercussions of the War on Gaza," debates revolved around the local, regional, and international determinants which wrapped Jordan's stances and policies before, during, and after the war. Participants appraised efforts that have been officially and popularly paid to provide components of steadfastness and relief for the brotherly Palestinian people. Some participants suggested that Jordan should have taken tougher stances towards this aggression, including withdrawing the Jordanian ambassador from Israel, because no matter how important relief is, it can not be considered a substitute or compensation for politics and diplomacy. They spoke about the weakness and confusion which they witnessed in the government's performance during the first days of the war on the Gaza Strip. Some of them attributed this confusion and weakness to two main factors: the first factor being Jordan's ignorance of what was and is going around the minds of Hamas's leaders, and the second factor being the government's failure to accurately express the stances, interests, limitations, and restrictions that control Jordan's stance in such situations and sudden turns.
Participants argued about Jordan's stance that strongly supported the Egyptian initiative. Some of them said that Jordan could not adopt any stances that may provoke the reservations of the brotherly Egyptians and a number of other Arab countries, including the Palestinian authority itself, in addition to Jordan's wish to see Egypt returning back to its leading role in the Arab region. However, other participants believed that Jordan should have supported the demands of the Palestinian consensus which surpassed the initiative, although it formally accepted it as a reference and basis for negotiations.
Participants recommended that Jordan play a more effective role in bringing Palestinian factions together and retain links of communication and interaction with everyone, including Hamas and the Jihad movement regardless of the differences in stances and visions.
Participants noted the national unity at the popular level that accompanied the aggression on Gaza and the decline in the manifestations of division and dissension. However, a number of them have also noted that the division in Palestine usually creates political polarization in Jordan, and that war did not bridge the gap between the government and the Islamic opposition in particular.
Participants unanimously agreed that the decrease in chances to establish an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip shall have serious repercussions on Jordan's security, stability, and identity. They granted exceptional importance to the enablement of the Palestinian people's steadfastness on their land and warned of the hazards of repeating Gaza's same scenario in the West Bank and all its possible consequent depopulation operations of the Palestinian land's inhabitants. They also considered that any one-sided step Israel takes shall threaten the security and interests of Jordan.
The brainstorming session was launched with two introductory speeches by the vice chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Applied Science Private University, MP Haitham Abu Khadija, and the general director of Al-Quds Center for Political Studies, Mr. Oraib Al-Rantawi respectively. In the two speeches, they spoke about the importance of this meeting and the context in which it operates. They also confirmed that the two organizing parties of this meeting shall continue organizing such activities that relate to public policies, issues, and challenges within the Jordanian national agenda.