Palestinian refugees can crack this tough nut

Rami G. Khouri writes: The Palestinian unity technocratic government that held its first meeting in war-torn Gaza Thursday marked several significant if symbolic realities, the most important being the need to unify all Palestinians under a single legitimate leadership. It could be an important first step in a historic series of actions that are needed to address the visible weaknesses in the Palestinian national condition.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said at the meeting – held in Gaza because Israeli would not allow Gaza-based ministers to travel to the West Bank – that, “This is the government of all of Palestine … therefore I demand all factions support the government in rebuilding the Gaza Strip and restoring a normal way of life.”

If Hamdallah was speaking for the government or for all Palestinians, the welcomed drama of his presiding over a national unity government in Palestine could not hide the still missing element that weakens his words and deeds. We were all reminded of this last week by a fine report from the International Crisis Group that noted that the vast majority of Palestinians who are refugees living outside of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, remain politically outside the corridors of Palestinian power. Until the refugees are credibly re-integrated into the political decision-making system, as was the case at the height of the Palestinian national movement in the 1970s, statements and decisions by Palestinian leaders in Ramallah and Gaza will have very limited impact, because they do not reflect the pain and the will of the Palestinian majority. [Continue reading…]

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