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For Palestinians to develop en effective national strategy, re-take the initiative and make the Palestinian state a real option requires first of all that they give up the illusion that " the state is a stone-throw away ", and that " the solution is at the door. " Such a strategy must give priority to putting an end to Palestinian divisions, rehabilitating the National Program, and uniting the people. It has to adopt 'smart' resistance (one that abides by the international criteria that condemn targeting civilians) and productive negotiations, by reconsidering the role of the Palestinian Authority to subject it to the National Program; a strategy that reforms, reactivates, and restructures the PLO, so as to combine all Palestinian factions and all the colors of the Palestinian spectrum; a strategy that opens up all options, rather than confines itself to a one-and-only option.

But Hamas faces a fundamental dilemma of advocating resistance while its strategy on the ground has changed towards managing a long-term truce with Israel. Recently, Hamas has come closer to the PLO and the PA platform and is considering it a program that represents the minimum demands for Palestinians, not merely an interim program, as it used to consider it. In the Territories of the Palestiian Authority, i.e. the West Bank, there has been a gradual transformation of authority, which has shifted from Fatah as the ruling faction to a government of experts and technocrats. Fatah now is not the organization that controls the PA and its resources and wealth while it continues to bear all the burdens. In face of the three scenarios of possible developments over the medium-term, priority should be given to ending the occupation, not to building the state's institutions. Israeli occupation is of a very special brand and makes resistance the only valid way to end it. Only resistance - smart resistance - can sow the seeds that negotiations can harvest.

Hani al Masri : writer and director of the Center for Media Alternatives, Research and Studies

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The Arab Reform Initiative is a consortium of fifteen key policy research centers from the Arab world with partners from Europe and the United States, working to mobilize the Arab research capacity to advance knowledge and promote a home grown program for democratic reform.

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