A Palestinian research team, assisted by international researchers, part of an EU-funded project in cooperation with the Finland’s Crises Management Initiative, is working on producing a research that addresses the different probable scenarios pertaining the Palestinian resilience and policies that should be embraced, in light of that, with the objective of acting, as much as possible to prevent the bad scenarios and push forward the preferred good ones.
The research team has produced two papers: The first deals with the scenarios, drafted by Dr. Abdul Rahman Tamimi, while the other deals with the policies, drafted by Dr. Raid Nuerat.
The research followed a participatory analytical approach, in analyzing the Palestinian resilience components and their interrelations, in affecting and effect. The approach was implemented following literature revision, drafting reports, research papers, sectorial papers, opinion polls, meetings and workshops, in addition to statistical analyses and future prediction studies, such as: Cross Impact Matrix, Future Wheel, Scenario Building Technique, Delphi Technique, and 5Ts Technology for Effects and Impact Analysis.
The research has concluded into three main scenarios, as well as other sub-scenarios: The first is a scenario of continued division and fragile society, which is the de facto and most probable scenario. The second is the scenario of chaos and collapse, which will eventually take place if the current indicators and signs continue prevailing, further exacerbate and other negative factors existed. The third scenario is that of resilience and unity, which in spite of its poor probability, still has factors and indicators driving it. In case of having the awareness and will for making change and reform to the Palestinian political system, with all its components, be it from within or with external pressure, basically by the different components and actors of the Palestinian people, which is fed up with the current situation and is yearning for changing it, this scenario can have the chance to become more probable and be before the other aforementioned two.
The ongoing efforts to end the division through meetings by factions’ secretary generals and bilateral meetings between Fatah and Hamas, as well as between them and the other factions, will have a great impact on which scenario takes place.
If the efforts for ending the division and re-establishing unity and agree on a comprehensive vision, a new strategy and real partnership and based on that reform the PLO to include the political spectrum components and reform the Palestinian Authority to become a tool in serving the joint national program and consulting the people through ballot boxes, the resilience and unity scenario will progress, while the other two scenarios will retreat. Whereas, is that fails, then the opposite will happen and we will regret that when remorse cannot help. Yet, if the unity initiative doesn’t completely succeed or completely fail, then will remain in the same place, in a process of division management that threatens with causing a total loss if it continues to prevail.
The unity scenario could happen if a low-probability high-impact event takes place that leads to an end to the division. This is probable in probabilities and scenarios methodology; it is called the "miracle scenario." A "curse" scenario, which is of low-probability and high-impact, could occur. The biggest example of these positive or negative scenarios is the Covid-19 pandemic, which is a small event that was not expected, but had a major impact that no one can predict its results so far as it is still ongoing.
Scenarios should not approached as destiny or fate, or even an absolute truth, but rather as a proportional human research that stands right and wrong, based on scientific research methodologies, data, indicators, experience and imagination. It should be subject to many factors and variables. Thus, it makes no sense to believe in what some experts predict, that an event will or will not happen 100%; such as that a war will take place between America and China 100%, at an exact time. This can also include their expectations on the inevitability of the emergence of a multipolar system, or the continuation of the unipolar system, or the inevitability of the Palestinian Authority returning or not returning to negotiations, or the end of the two-state solution by 100% probability, or the end of the Trump deal or even the inevitability of its success. These are mere probabilities, some of which stand greater chances to materialize and subject to factors and variables that affect their probability.
One shall take into account that there are indicators and factors that advance one of the scenarios, and lend them different probabilities. There is an overlap at the same time between the different scenarios, as they are not firmly separated. Odes are that the scenario of the status quo may continue, while overlapping with the scenario of chaos and deterioration, or overlapping with the scenario of progressing towards unity and resilience at the same time. At the same time, there remains the need to determine which scenario is more likely to happen and which is not, and why?
Countless sub-scenarios also appear. For example, in the Palestinian case, sub-scenarios could occur, such as the vacancy of the position of the President, due to illness, resignation or death. This is a variable that will make a major change, and it could further drive things towards chaos and collapse if it occurs before having internal Palestinian arrangements and agreeing on the mechanism for the transfer of power.
On the other hand, the scenario of the expected absence of the President due to his old age and illness, is also likely to not happen, where the President continues being in office for another period that may take years, especially as he is from a long-lived family. This reinforces the scenario of continuing the current situation. In this case, we may witness consensus elections in which President Mahmoud Abbas is a candidate by acclamation, or competitive elections, or we may not witness elections at all.
The scenario of the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising remains possible, regardless of its probability now, or probability of a fundamental change in the Arab, international or Israeli situation, negative or positive, which will severely affect the Palestinian issue more than other issues, due to its importance and its interaction with multiple factors and issues. These changes remain possible, and there is a need for preparing for all, not only one of them, or to continue resorting to a reaction strategy, but rather to an effective and proactive strategy that anticipates and prepares for the future. We are in a collapsing old world, with a rising new world, whose features are not yet clear, replacing the old one. We must prepare to it, for Palestine to take the position that befits it on the map of the new world.
Conclusion: There is a need for scientifically combining vision and defining the scenarios and implement strategic thinking to achieve the preferred and normative scenario, according to the methodology of strategic studies, regardless of whether the scenarios are desirable or not, while there is a need to stay prepared for the worst scenario and to do everything necessary and possible to advance the preferred scenario.