Whither the Palestinian National Movement?

Rashid Khalidi in The Nation:

Moving toward a two-state, or a one-state, solution or toward any other resolution of the Palestine question–that is, getting the Palestinians out of the parlous state they are currently in–is dependent on a reversal in the dynamic of the Palestinian polity. For several years, this has been spiraling downward, and it now seems to be nearly in free-fall. Only when the Palestinians were united, when they had some sense of what their national strategy was, and when they chose tactics appropriate to that strategy, did they have any success at all, minimal though it has been, over the past forty-one years, the past sixty years–indeed, over the past ninety years. The Palestinians were most emphatically not united around a clear strategy and appropriate tactics during the British Mandate until 1948 or during the two decades afterward, nor have they been for the past decade or so, both periods that have been disastrous for them. Even during the era from the heyday of the PLO in the late 1960s through the first intifada of 1987-91, when the Palestinians gained broad international legitimacy and sympathy, and grudging recognition from Israel, this unity and strategic clarity were flawed in many ways.

In particular, Palestinians lacked clarity about the moral, legal and political disadvantages in the use of violence against an Israeli polity able to mobilize in defense of its actions, however unspeakable, the most powerful tropes of victimhood in modern Western culture. This confusion among some Palestinians exists although farsighted thinkers like Edward Said and Eqbal Ahmad understood decades ago that nonviolent resistance was integral to Palestinian success; although the greatest successes of the Palestinians were won by the unarmed popular protests of the first intifada; and despite widespread (but underreported) peaceful joint Palestinian-Israeli protest movements against Israel’s illegal wall inside the West Bank.