Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa used exceptionally tough language during a Cairo news conference 9 September, when he lashed out at Palestinian factionalism, saying that the League is going as far as studying the possibility of imposing sanctions on quarrelling Palestinians.
“I am extremely angry with the Palestinian organisations… We are studying the measures to be taken in the face of the current Palestinian chaos,” he said, after a meeting of Arab foreign ministers. He added, “the sanctions would not be against anyone in particular. They would be against the party which obstructs reconciliation and maybe against everyone or against the organisation which obstructs Egyptian efforts.”
Considering Moussa’s devoted efforts in the past aimed at solidifying a Palestinian front and generating a semblance of a Arab unity in its support, one can only sympathise with the head of the League’s frustration and indeed “extreme anger”.
Palestinian disunity, and political — if not, geopolitical — fragmentation is eroding the Palestinian cause more than all Israeli efforts, walls and military incursions combined. The painful-to-watch televised bickering between representatives of various Palestinian factions has led to confusion among traditionally pro-Palestinian groups worldwide. The political objectives — once agreed upon as “constants” — and symbols that once united Palestinians everywhere are now wide open for extreme interpretation.
In fact, “respecting the sanctity of Palestinian blood”, which for long served as the lowest possible denominator agreed on by every Palestinian grouping, has been violated many times in recent months and years; too many times to count. Repeating the slogan is, at this point, an empty mantra, joining the numerous other mantras that have for long served as a sedative for the hapless masses, whether Arabs, Palestinians or both.
That said, a reality check is also in order. It might be easy for the Arab League to pass a measure or two to sanction Palestinian groups who might be perceived as the ones jeopardising the Cairo talks, whether the ones underway or the larger gatherings scheduled for October. Not even Palestinians would dare criticise the League for practising some brotherly tough love for the sake of the cause of Palestine, which is supposedly the main overriding priority for every Arab state — another mantra. Nonetheless, it is incumbent on the Arab League, as it mulls over the issue of sanctions, to consider the role that some of its own members have played in instigating Palestinian infighting.