Video: Interview with Palestinian writer Khaled Barakat on Palestinian national unity and the road forward

In this video (Arabic audio with full English subtitles), Palestinian writer Khaled Barakat speaks with Samidoun about Palestinian politics today, the question of national unity, confronting normalization – and what these have to do with the “factions meeting” that took place on September 3, 2020 in Ramallah and Beirut.

Full transcript:

Question 1: What is your opinion of the Palestinian factions’ meeting in Ramallah and Beirut on 3 September?

Khaled Barakat: I think the correct question is why this meeting took place now in Ramallah and Beirut and why it was convened in this way. Was this meeting for the forces of the Palestinian resistance? Or was it a meeting called by Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), President of the Palestinian Authority and the forces of the Authority, and the factions were present?

Because this raises a very important point – and that is, how many times such meetings with the factions have taken place and nothing has come from it?

We know that before this meeting, there were meetings in Mecca, Doha, Cairo, Beirut and more than one capital. Why would this meeting be different, and the results be different?

The truth is, the Palestinian people, who are being targeted on a daily basis by the hands of the Israeli occupation with prisons, siege, dispossession – they know that such meetings will not result in anything, Simply, because this meeting was not for Palestinian resistance. This meeting was attended by forces that are against the resistance and hostile to the resistance, and some persons who attended and delivered speeches, are part of the path of Oslo and normalization and, at the forefront of them, is Abu Mazen himself.

The essence of this meeting and the framework under which it was convened, and the program it was based on – all of these issues are very important and determine the outcome of any meeting or conference.

Question 2: Some say that the meeting of the factions was positive in itself, as it may lead to national unity. What is your view?

Khaled Barakat: The meeting in itself is not important. People do not convene just for the sake of meeting, unless they already decided that nothing will come out of it. It will not produce anything, and there will be no real decisions that have value.

Inside the forces of the resistance, we can disagree. We can have different points of view as much as we want. We have differences on all various issues here.

But amongst them is not treason. Amongst them is not to concede 80% of Palestine. Amongst them is not security coordination with Israeli occupation, justifying the continuation of the path of Oslo and the Palestinian official recognition of the Zionist entity (Israel).

Therefore, the point is not to meet for the sake of meeting. There must be a reason for a conference. Frankly, this is an Israeli way of convening meetings, and they have practiced it with Palestinians for 30 years. Saying let’s meet, just to talk, no problem! And that the mere meeting in itself is important and is positive, and so on.

This will not deceive the Palestinian people. Palestinians are a people who are wise and smart and understand it instantly. And that meetings must have real decisions that have value and that Israel must also see it as such, otherwise it is a waste of time.

Question 3: Some say the final statement had positive elements, like fighting normalization, supporting popular resistance, and rebuilding the PLO. What do you think?

Khaled Barakat: The Palestinian people did not stop their confrontation of normalization or their resistance.

The final statements that were produced, talking about fighting normalization. Who is going to fight normalization?

Ahmad Majdalani? And others who are frequent guests at the Zionist Herzliya Conference? One of those who delivered a speech in the conference just arrived from the Knesset, the parliament of the enemy. He is coming to lecture us about fighting normalization? And he wants to fight normalization?

Who are they trying to fool? There are figures, like Mohammed Madani, a member of the Central Committee of Fateh. He is leading a committee called the Committee for Communication with Israeli Society, a committee that has no task but normalization. He was also present in the meeting.

Here is the problem. The severe contradiction between message and messenger.

Because the most important thing: Palestinians have to present a model, confronting normalization and resisting occupation. And they do, but not the ones attending this meeting. Many of them are a bridge for normalization with the Israeli occupation. That’s why nobody believes them.

The Palestinian people did not go out in the streets celebrating that we have national unity. Because they understand that this is not national unity. If Palestinian national unity were really materialized, in words and in deeds, because the Palestinian people want to see actions and not rhetoric, even statements. Anyone can write a statement, even an excellent statement. At the end, there is no value for this unless it is truly practiced with serious actions that the Palestinian people will feel.

Today, our people, whether in Palestine or in the diaspora: They do not want to read statements, they want to see actions.

Question 4: What is the alternative for the Palestinian resistance?

Khaled Barakat: The alternative is known. All Palestinians know the alternative – ask the Palestinian people, and they will tell you the alternative in details:

The Palestinian people regain their collective decisions and national institutions, and liberate them from the class of Oslo, and banks and security agencies. That is the alternative.

And when the Palestinian prisoners’ movement regains its natural place as a decisive force in Palestinian politics, that is the alternative.

And when Palestinian refugees and the Palestinian refugee camps have a voice and a decision. They want the camp to be an audience. Well, the camps did watch them. What did they come up with?

The alternative is the path of liberation and return. The alternative is the path of Ghassan Kanafani, Kamal Nasser, Yahya Ayyash and Dalal al-Mughrabi. That is the alternative. The alternative is known!

And if we cannot today achieve liberation and return, at least to consider this a stage of steadfastness and resilience. We consider that the scrapping of the Oslo accord will be an achievement. If we end the Palestinian official recognition of the Zionist entity (Israel), this will have a value.

The Palestinian people must raise their voice and participate. Frankly, without the participation of the Palestinian masses, going out into the squares and streets and raising their voices and participating, and saying that these are our national institutions and we are going to liberate them from the 1% and the merchants of Oslo.

Otherwise, we will not be able to move forward, and the Palestinian people will not be able to regain its voice and liberate the national institutions, to liberate the Palestinian national charter, and regain it as the constitution that determines the relationship of Palestinians with each other.

We will not be able to mark one real step forward, unless it cuts with the entire stage of Oslo, the illusions of Oslo, and all of the path of Osloization that destroyed our people and cause, and shredded the rights of Palestinians, and even our people themselves.

And without Palestinian resistance forces realizing these issues, it will be very hard to move forward on the front of national unity.

The Palestinian internal front – the unity of the Palestinian internal front is a very vital and important issue. But the side that is blocking this unity, this class in Ramallah that is dominating all aspects of Palestinian national institutions, hijacking them and turning them into a private farm that benefits a certain class in occupied Palestine.