France Pushes Palestinian Independence, While Palestinians Weigh The Next Step

This week French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius publicly disclosed plans to organize an international conference to gather Israel and the Palestinian Authority for a discussion on how to reach the goal of a two-state solution, reports The New York Times.

Israel, which sees European nations as more favorable toward the Palestinian cause, rebuked the French and had particular condemnation for France’s decision to recognize Palestine as an independent state should the effort fail.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the “threat” of recognizing Palestine would only discourage the PA from negotiating seriously. He added that Israel would enter talks, but with no preconditions.

“I assess that there will be a sobering up regarding this matter. In any event, we will make effort so that there is a sobering up here, and our position is very clear: We are prepared to enter direct negotiation without preconditions and without dictated terms,” he said.

“While recognition of Palestine as an independent state remains a priority, it does not hold the same weight among a new generation of Palestinian leaders.

After years of demonstrating their inability to provide adequate governance, many Palestinians have turned their attention to a new generation of grassroots activists who are less focused on a two-state solution than on developing tactics aimed at improving the Palestinian position.

With both the moral authority of the current leadership diminished and the goal of a Palestinian state in some question, Palestinians are debating how to move forward and which strategies to adopt.

“There is some growing interest in various one-state alternatives somehow combining Israelis and Palestinians. But more significant is the tendency to defer questions of solutions in favor of developing tactics that can improve the Palestinian position—such as new forms of resistance and boycott. A new generation of Palestinians that is not cowed by memories of the tribulations of the last uprising is stepping forward,” writes Nathan Brown of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

He notes that there is a chasm between the past and the future in terms of who will lead Palestine.

Those who led Palestinians into the Oslo process have little credibility left, even as they retain top leadership positions. But their opponents continue to offer no persuasive alternative. Even a quick glance at Palestinian political reality reveals a deeply fractured leadership, society, and physical geography. The official leadership around the PA and PLO is directionless and starving for moral authority, and its rival in Hamas seems tactically confused and strategically adrift,” maintains Brown.

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