Little attention has been paid to the recent rise of peaceful demonstrations orchestrated by supposedly “non-aligned” Palestinian youth in the West Bank, remarkably resembling the peaceful demonstrations that scattered across the Arab world in 2011 and beyond.
Similar to the Arab uprisings, these non-violent protests have been orchestrated by the Palestinian youth. According to the Jordanian journalist Raed Omari, the large and significant Palestinian rally of hundreds of Palestinians to reestablish Ein Hijleh village in the Jordan Valley, the weekly demonstration against the construction of the wall in the Palestinian village of Bil’in, and the protest camps built at Bab al-Shams not far from Jerusalem have clearly been influenced by the Arab Spring revolutions.
Young people in Palestine have initiated Mehl al-ard (Salt of the Earth), a nationwide action campaign with the primary objective of speaking out against the Israeli efforts to take over the Jordan Valley. The members have established an encampment which they named “Al-Awda” (Return) close to the Israeli checkpoint in the north of the Jordan Valley that was also evicted by Israeli security personnel.
In such manifestations of peaceful rebellion, the Palestinian advocates have inoffensively claimed the land and expressed their objection towards the United States-mediated peace negotiations, which they believe will take a heavy toll on Palestinian aspirations.
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"It could become a source of embarrassment for Israel’s staunchest allies in Washington"As in many Arab Spring states where peaceful revolutions were headed or inspired by youth activists or revolutionary figures like Wael Ghonim of Egypt, there appears to be a general agreement within the Palestinian youth on the non-partisan Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti, a leading figure of the Palestinian National Initiative, as the leader of their non-violent movements.
In addition to his non-violent resistance strategy, Bargouti, who is also a physician based in Ramallah, brings much to the table. He is not a “contentious” figure, in contrast to other Palestinians such as Khaled Mashal or Mahmoud Abbas. The U.S. educated political advocate has also been involved in humanitarian and social activities across the occupied territories.
There is an increasing phenomenon of peaceful resistance in the Palestinian land that is gaining momentum and will undoubtedly be difficult to handle for the Israelis. Depending on how it all plays out, it could become a source of embarrassment for Israel’s staunchest allies in Washington.
The Israelis strain relations with the Palestinians have taken the form of popular uprisings (intifada), armed fighting, and peace talks that has never been able to produce a lasting breakthrough to the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. With a tiny possibility of a new intifada or an armed rebellion against the Israelis, the most likely collapse to the ongoing peace discussion would no longer be status quo of “no war, no peace”, but rather an expansion of the recently initiated peaceful resistance by young Palestinians.
If the Palestinian Authority fails once more in protecting the Palestinian aspirations, along with Hamas’ inadequate political tactics, let alone military strategies, revived peaceful resistance will likely become the ‘backup plan’ for the Palestinian youth.