"There are many reasons why the current wave of protests that has been continuing for the fourth month in a row, has not been transformed into a fully-fledged intifada with a unified leadership and specific aims, as I and others have previously discussed," writes Hani al-Masri in the leading Palestinian daily al-Ayyam.
Most important is the fact that the Palestinian leadership has not formally adopted the ongoing wave of protests and confined itself to reticent support for it. Meanwhile, the various Palestinian forces are either unable or hesitant about adopting and joining the protests for fear that they may develop into a fully-fledged intifada that they cannot control. Each force also fears that its domestic competitors may use it to promote their interests at their expense.
But certain manifestations have imparted a degree of popularity to the ongoing intifada whose importance cannot be dismissed. These include the masses that took part in the martyrs’ funerals, in the protests and activities demanding that the bodies of the martyrs should be released, and in the formation of a human belt around the martyr's homes thus blocking or postponing the orders to demolish these homes on numerous occasions.
We shall focus here on the policy to demolish the homes of those who carry out fedayeen attacks. This policy was part of the measures decided by the occupation authorities as a form of punishment and in order to deter further such attacks.
Since the beginning of the current intifada wave, the Israeli media has reported on the disagreement between the occupation army command and security forces on the one hand, and Israel’s political leadership on the other over the effectiveness of the policy of demolishing homes, seizing bodies [of Palestinians killed in clashes], and other such measures.
Events have confirmed the military's point of view – namely, that such policies only exacerbate matters and do not help to suppress the intifada. That, in turn, has led the occupation to release the majority of bodies, keeping those of some Jerusalemite attackers because responsibility for them does not belong to the army on the grounds that Jerusalem has been annexed to Israel and is subject to Israeli law, not to the occupation law that applies in the territories occupied in 1967.
The story began in Shu’fat [refugee] Camp in Jerusalem when a group of people took the initiative to collect contributions to rebuild the home of the martyr Ibrahim al-'Akkari. People responded positively, despite their difficult living conditions. Poor people as well as wealthy people contributed, and then everyone joined in. The campaign to 'Rebuild the Homes of the Free' was launched in Nablus, collecting one million Shekels, as well as other similar contributions. A campaign was launched to rebuild the home of the martyr Mohannad al-Halabi, collecting some 600 thousand Shekels, apart from land and other contributions and free labor.
Then the dissolved [Palestinian] Union of Civil Servants (UCS), which is appealing the [PA’s] dissolution order, announced that was ready to pay 1% of the salary of every civil servant to back the campaign. And if the PA implements this decision, this would allow for some 5 million dollars to be collected. The UCS urged other unions to do the same and to collect many times that sum, so as to rebuild the destroyed homes and help the families of martyrs, prisoners and those harmed by the occupation’s measures.
This donation campaign once again proves that the Palestinians are ready to struggle and give, while the leadership and the elite remain largely absent. The donation campaigns were not initiated by the leadership and have not been adopted by the PA, whereas the proper course would have been for the PA to rebuild every home demolished by the occupation, rather than using the dearth of resources as an excuse. For addressing this vital national need takes priority over every other issue. And if it finds itself lacking in means, the PA should implement the UCS decision and encourage similar initiatives.
While we do not know how it will deal with this initiative and while it has not announced that it is ready to cover all the losses resulting from the occupation and its crimes against the people on the pretext of the intifada, the PA fears the occupation's ire if it were to take such an initiative and make such an announcement. But this is a great exaggeration. After all, the PA did lead the second [2000/4] armed intifada without Israel disbanding it because the alternative to the PA is very bad, and because Israel was then wagering on the creation of a new PA, which it unfortunately managed to do.
For the PA after the second intifada is much worse than what it was before because it was previously part of a political process that it hoped would end in ending the occupation and establishing a state. But after the collapse of the [July 2000] Camp David summit and the  reoccupation of the West Bank, the PA became a mere means without any political horizon. Moreover, if the PA is worried about rebuilding the demolished homes and other similar measures, how can it convince us that it is ready to implement the PLO Central Council's decisions urging a reconsideration of the relationship with the occupation, an end to security coordination, and an end to the Palestinian economy's total dependency on Israel?
Those who do not take part in the martyrs' funerals except in a very limited manner and not at the highest level, and who have not adopted the campaigns to collect donations to rebuild the martyrs' homes, will not alter the relationship with the occupation from that of a 'partner in peace' to that of an enemy. This will only happen if it is forced to for some reason or another, or as a reaction to major events or crimes. We must remain alert and work to prevent Israel from exploiting what is happening and from employing the Palestinian division and loss of purpose to domesticate the PA even further, especially in the post-'Abbas phase.
The Palestinian leadership and the PA both say that they are all for a popular and peaceful intifada; but we do not know what is preventing them from organizing one. After all, if they did so, they would have no fear of the intifada turning against them. Moreover, the nation will feel that they are interested in staging an effective resistance, albeit of a peaceful nature although international law allows the Palestinian people the right to engage in all forms of resistance, including armed resistance. And this means that it is necessary to safeguard this right and use it when necessary based on a national decision, and as part of a national strategy, and by way of self-defense at all times and in all places.
The peaceful resistance that the PA wants consists of demonstrations inside the cities and away from any friction with the occupation forces and the hordes of settlers. But such an 'intifada' cannot motivate the people, since the occupation can cohabit with it forever.
Peaceful resistance in its broader sense can take over two hundred different forms. It includes all kinds of non-violent resistance, including sabotage of occupation institutions, roads and infrastructure; it includes the organization of demonstrations in which thousands and tens-of-thousands march peacefully but head to the settlements and the settlers inside Jerusalem, Hebron, and everywhere, with the leaders of the various factions, the PA, and the PLO in the vanguard.
Moreover, the Palestinian leadership and the PA can organize a campaign to boycott Israel. They can initially confine themselves to refraining from working, dealing or trading with the settlements. For it makes no sense that there should be any Palestinian investment in Israel and its settlements. It makes no sense for the Palestinian markets to be full of Israeli goods, despite the announcement of a boycott of these goods.
This is especially urgent in light of recent reports regarding preparations by [leading Israeli supermarket chain owner] Rami Levy, the sponsor of settlement activities, to establish huge condominiums via joint ventures with Palestinian businessmen and companies.
"His stated aim is to promote joint work and cohabitation between Palestinians and Israelis, including Israeli settlers," concludes Masri.