Palestinian youth clash with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Tuqua, south-east of Bethlehem on January 18, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

A few years ago, any Palestinian organisation that did not support the armed struggle was viewed with suspicion, since the gun — and only the gun — was considered the only way to liberate Palestine.

In those days, this was agreed on even by those unable to play a role the armed struggle.

Today, however, many Palestinians realise — publicly or otherwise — that the popular struggle (with all its variations) is only in name at this stage, and this is due to a clear shift in the strategic balance of power in favour of the Zionist state and its allies.

Indeed, the popular struggle is gathering momentum in draining Israel politically, morally and in the media where it draws the world’s condemnation over its continued occupation of Palestinian lands.

Its use of excessive force against defenceless Arab civilians and its violent strategy often results in strong denunciations in the international arena.

There are facts and gains established by the Palestinian people’s peaceful struggle that cannot be ignored, although their final results are still dependent on the realisation of how Palestinian nationalist forces utilise them.

Perhaps the most prominent of these facts/gains is that the Palestinian issue, despite all the obstacles, is alive in the hearts and minds of Palestinians, many Arabs, Muslims as well as westerners.

The once ‘marginalised’ Palestinian issue tops regional and international agendas again — as several United Nations (UN) resolutions testify to.

The UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly adopted clear and important resolutions in favour of Palestine when it comes to Israeli practices affecting the rights of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian lands, the illegality of the Jewish colonies in these lands, the application of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and other Arab-occupied territories.

These resolutions have also been related to the adoption of the work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting Palestinian Human Rights and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, the property and revenues of Palestinian refugees, the operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the 1967 displaced Palestinians, and assistance to Palestinian refugees.

For those who see no other form of struggle and insist that armed resistance is the only way of struggle — arguing that international resolutions have no value because many of them have not been achieved or implemented — the fact remains that international resolutions still have an important impact.

“We have long understood that the United Nations will not bring us any salvation,” wrote Israeli author Lilac Sigan recently, adding that “the farewell gift from Nikky Hailey, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, was supposed to be a vehement denunciation of Hamas. It seemed self-evident that the United Nations will condemn the terrorist organisation, but it turned out that it didn’t.”

Sigan went on to say: “A few years ago, all Israel has been doing is to occasionally complain of the problem [of UN voting].”

Along the same lines, Israeli journalist Shlomo Shamir said: “Israel’s failure to condemn Hamas is disappointing, even though the condemnation would not have led to a change in international relations with Hamas. This should not lead to more nervousness and anger about the result of the vote, because this United Nations is anti-Israel, will remain so, and will not change. The organisation was and will remain an arena against us.”

In further comments on the UN vote, Israel’s Hebrew Channel 10 said “US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Jason Greenblatt, US special envoy to the Middle East, considered the failure to pass the resolution at the United Nations a disgraceful act.”

Nevertheless, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the number of countries that voted against Hamas at the UN — 87 nations — reflected “a very important success for the US and Israel, although the draft resolution was not adopted.”

Yes, there is no doubt that the UN resolutions on the question of Palestine appear to be one of the heaviest weapons in the hands of the Palestinians today.

With the strategic imbalance of power in the region, the threat of an armed struggle is no longer the only weapon in the arsenal of Palestinians or the most pragmatic path for them to follow.

Indeed, the extremism of most right-wing political leaders in Israel, together with the country’s apartheid views and practices, have further exposed its agenda.

In fact, such views and practices open the door to a renewed Palestinian/Arab national liberation struggle, which requires all of us to abide by the two golden rules: “Make ready for them all you can of power” without abandoning the other wing of the struggle — political and media power, and the diplomatic and popular struggle.

Professor As’ad Abdul Rahman is the chairman of the Palestinian Encyclopaedia.