Siham Nuseibeh writes for Muftah:
The divisions and conflicts existing within Palestinian society as a result of decades of occupation and dispossession are highlighted in the obstacles the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] faces in any near-term peace talks with the Israeli government. While Hamas and Gaza remain notably absent from the negotiations, questions revolving around the continued salience of the Palestinian refugee issue are slowly turning into the elephant in the room and the socio-economic divisions within West Bank Palestinian society continue to exacerbate an already fragile political situation. In this environment, the Palestinian negotiating team is unlikely to enter into an agreement that adequately represents its entire constituency.
Trapped between the proverbial rock and a hard place, the Palestinian negotiating team’s most viable strategy would be to avoid peace negotiations with Israel in the short-term and immediately begin negotiating the devastating divisions that dominate Palestinian society. In recent times, it has been foreign mediators, such as Turkey, Libya, Qatar, Yemen, Egypt, and several others, and not the PLO who have attempted to arbitrate the divisions within Palestinian society. In the current climate, in which a unified Palestinian polity appears as the most important condition for restarting effective peace negotiations, the PLO would be well advised to reverse this trend, to take a more pronounced and aggressive role in mediating these internal conflicts, and to focus its attention on achieving the difficult, yet auspicious goal of a unified Palestinian constituency.