The struggle of Palestinians abroad and its transformations: between visions of liberation and the state project

Palestinians abroad do not receive priority attention from Palestinian political actors, even though they constitute more than half of the Palestinian people. As the peace process continues to decline, and the Palestinian-Israeli confrontation develops, they can occupy a more advanced position than before, but they lack organization and vision. This is what the paper discusses from the transformations of the Palestinian struggle abroad.

The Palestinian issue arose between 1947-1949 as a refugee issue. The attacks of the “Zionist gangs” and acts of war displaced about 80% of the total Palestinian people in the territories of the year 1948. While part of them were distributed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the largest percentage was distributed in the neighboring Arab countries. The Palestinian presence outside Palestine today is estimated at about 7 million, which is equivalent to a little more than 50% of the total Palestinian people, especially after the displacement of about 300,000 others after the 1967 war (1) . Despite the wide spread of Palestinians around the world, about 70-75% of Palestinians abroad still live in the countries surrounding Palestine, especially Jordan, Syria and Lebanon (2) .

By virtue of the numerical status of the Palestinians abroad, and the political conditions in the Arab countries, the Palestinian national movement developed in its environments after the Nakba (that is, after the displacement in 1948), where the political entity represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization, which was more like a government of exile stationed in the arenas of population and political weight, was strengthened within it. For the Palestinians in Jordan and then Lebanon from the late sixties until the exit of the organization to Tunisia in 1982 as a result of the events of the Lebanese war.  

The outsider lost its leadership role in the Palestinian struggle with the transformations that accompanied the entry of the Palestine Liberation Organization into the occupied territories, in 1967, under the Oslo Accords, in 1993, which established the Palestinian Authority (in 1994).

This paper attempts to shed light on the transformations of the Palestinian struggle abroad, and to approach the role of the outside in the available environments of action between the conditions of the host countries or the countries of the ring, and between the opportunities of the new environments developed by the growth of the Palestinian presence and its tools in the West. 

The paper will review the prevailing Palestinian political visions and their effects in determining the trends of the national role of the outside, and it will address the repercussions of the struggle of the outside on Palestinian actors, and the directions of development of his political vision. The paper will also examine the nature of the struggle interaction between Palestinians abroad in the face of the Israeli occupation, an interaction whose answer is more clearly defined by the paper’s identification of the nature of the struggle abroad, its characteristics and features. The paper concludes with a general outlook for the future of the Palestinian struggle abroad.

The prevailing Palestinian visions and their implications for the national role abroad

Since the fifties of the last century, and with the formation of the political identity of the Palestinian struggle in the mid-sixties through the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the leadership of Palestinian national action abroad was formed and continued during the period between 1964-1994, that is, over thirty years (3) . The political vision and the Palestinians’ liberation project originally emerged from the public awareness left by the suffering of the Palestinian refugees, before the transformations of the setback (the 1967 war) that drew new geographical and political borders (4).

 In other words, the outside possessed a national presence and political weight that allowed it to establish the Palestinian national project after the Nakba, and to launch its tools, which were represented by the contemporary Palestinian revolution. Since Oslo redrawn the national project from the path of liberation and armed struggle to the path of peaceful state building on the basis of the two-state solution and “resolutions of international legitimacy”, this necessitated a retreat in the role of the outside, whose leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization crystallized through the project of armed struggle (5) . The decline of the organization’s role necessitated a shift in the Palestinian struggle abroad, or what might be called in the academic literature the “Palestinian political diaspora.” The success of the organization in transferring the leadership’s center of gravity from abroad to the Palestinian territories, was not accompanied by a vision of linking the Palestinians abroad to the new state project (6)

The effectiveness of the national role was transformed from the outside to the inside, through the establishment of local institutions within the occupied territories in 1967, which greatly inflated within the framework of the Palestinian Authority, and automatically marginalized the effectiveness of the comprehensive national institutions linked to abroad, such as the National Fund and the Department of Refugee Affairs, whose presence was reviewed, and even competed by the Department of A new one under the name of the Department of Expatriate Affairs, which defined the forcibly displaced Palestinian communities as economic and professional expatriates (7) . This established a contradiction in which the program of the Palestinian people at home became isolated from the aspirations of the people abroad, and the political definition of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian land became defined within a demographic and geographical framework to which most of the Palestinian people abroad do not belong.

Until today, the Palestinian outsider has not found a space for his struggle in the two-state solution, which necessitated an indirect waiver of the right of return, which is the core of the national demand of the seven million outside Palestine, who, in most of them, hail from the lands of the “second state” (8) , according to the current vision. organization (9) . 

The vision of the two-state solution and its agreements redefined who is a Palestinian (who has a national number) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. After the Oslo Accords, the powers of the population registry were transferred to the Palestinian side, which issues identity cards and passports to the Palestinians of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and according to the Civil Status Law issued by the Palestinian Authority, 1999, the identity card is granted to every Palestinian who has reached the age of sixteen or every person who has obtained Palestinian citizenship (10 ).

 This legal definition of the Palestinian includes only residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip who are distinguished by the presence of a national number on their personal identity cards and passports issued by the Palestinian Authority (11) . Thus, the two-state solution was established to isolate the outsider from the new national project that crystallized a project to build the Palestinian state through negotiations (12) , a project based on the dualism of “part of the land and part of the people.” And when we talk about the outside, we do not necessarily talk about the refugee issue, despite the Palestinian affiliation with it. About 25% of the Palestinian refugees live inside the West Bank and Gaza Strip, meaning that a quarter of the Palestinian refugees are linked to the Palestinian state project by virtue of their presence within its geographical and demographic scope (13)

Therefore, the separation between the outside and the new national project of the organization contributed to the exposure of the outside and the disruption of the feasibility of the Palestinian presence in the vicinity of the “occupied homeland”; This caused a decline in the effectiveness of large areas in the general formation of Palestinians abroad. The emigration of Palestinians from Lebanon, whose numbers decreased from about half a million to less than two hundred thousand in the last official census in Lebanon, in 2017 (14) , is a non-exclusive example of the erosion of the foreign front, which has been left without representation or a practical program since the national weight was concentrated in favor of a project The state, which in turn has faced a blockage for more than two decades (15) .

The national interest abroad belongs to the first and basic chapter of the Palestinian issue, an interest that agrees with the definition of the issue as a people’s issue subjected to a major population cleansing process, an issue based on a fundamental demand, which is the right of return linked to the liberation project, not the state-building project for part of the people on the part of the land. The dilemma of the outside has been exacerbated by the fact that its national interest does not intersect with the vision of the main actors other than the PLO.

 The host Arab state was subject to the same references launched by the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, which are based on international legitimacy resolutions, especially Resolution 242, which dealt with the Palestinian issue within the borders of what happened after the 1967 war (16)., and diverted the discussion from the right to return to a border dispute over the occupied lands in the 1967 war. The official Arab regime later crystallized its vision in the Arab Peace Initiative, in 2002, which is based on the two-state solution, with an addition that was not included in the main text of the initiative related to solving the refugee issue in accordance with the resolution 194, which was added under pressure from the host countries, led by Syria and Lebanon (17)

Accordingly, the problem of the Arab political vision for the Palestinians abroad has been reinforced in two tracks: First: it has developed its political visions in harmony with the draft settlement and the two-state solution, which exceeds half of the Palestinian people living abroad. The second is that it dealt with the issue of the Palestinians abroad as a local problem specific to the host countries, and not as a national issue. Lebanon approaches the Palestinian presence within its sectarian balance and its internal crises, Syria in the context of the positioning of the ruling regime and its policies, and Jordan within the definitions of the Jordanian national character. With regard to the demand for the right of return in particular, the common interest between the host Arab state and the Palestinians abroad, in particular, intersects in Syria and Lebanon, a situation that carries local and political complications that make its effects no more than the limits of the treatments for the status of the Palestinian population in these countries.

On the other hand, to the extent that the emergence of Hamas, a major player in the Palestinian scene, played a role in reproducing the national definitions of the Palestinian project to its origins, the problem of the outside was still present. Whereas the Palestinians abroad remained outside the main interaction space for the new lever represented by Hamas. Rather, Hamas’ strategies indirectly contributed to leaving the outside without a role during the last three decades, due to the movement’s adoption of a geographic scope of action within the historical borders of Palestine (18) ; This made organizing the “Palestinian Outside” an issue not a high priority for the movement, whether in terms of interest or feasibility. Unlike the Palestine Liberation Organization, whose leadership of the national project from outside Palestine necessitated the organization of Palestinians abroad, Hamas led the resistance front politically from outside Palestine, and avoided organizing Palestinians abroad, for logistical and political reasons (19). The presence of the Hamas leadership in Jordan in the 1990s was conditional on not violating the local Jordanian equation in which Jordanians of Palestinian origin represent the most sensitive component of it. They are Palestinians on the one hand and have their own orientations in this regard, and Jordanian citizens and may belong to its parties on the other.

While the presence of Hamas there was more related to the Brotherhood equation for organizational reasons, Amman dealt with the political leadership of Hamas abroad as a branch of the Jordanian Brotherhood, especially since the Brotherhood of Palestine and Jordan were, until 2009, under the leadership of a single organization called the Levant Organization, which was always headed by the Brotherhood’s Comptroller General Jordanians (20) . 

In Lebanon, Hamas did not establish its own organization within the Palestinian community until the mid-nineties, and to a limited extent, its mainstay was an agreement between Hamas and the Islamic Group in Lebanon on the voluntary transfer of the Palestinian members of the group to the first Hamas organization in the camps outside Palestine (21). It is an organization that remained limited and dominated by a social service, charitable and advocacy character, until the outbreak of the second intifada (2000) at home. Where Hamas began to expand the scope of its activity and organization(22). At the end of the 1990s, the Hamas leadership was located in Syria after its crisis with Jordan and its exit from there(23) , and its leadership lived out its golden decade in Syria within an unwritten agreement that the movement operates in the Palestinian political and media work spaces, and avoids organizing the Palestinians in its ranks (24) . Thus, all of the above indicates that Hamas’ active political presence abroad, and close to the great Palestinian gatherings in the ring countries during the past three decades, seemed to be insufficient in building a practical project to restore the national foreign role.

Until now, Hamas does not seem to have a clear declared vision of organizing abroad, and a quick look at its central leadership structure (Executive Committee), which consists of 18 members and a portfolio, we will find that a file such as refugees and the right of return did not find a space comparable to the weight that the file of prisoners or Jerusalem enjoyed. Or Arab and Islamic relations and other files linked to the inside or come as a reference to it (25) . In recent years, Hamas has supported a project independent of it under the title “Conference for Palestinians Abroad”, which was launched in 2017, in an attempt to organize and frame the outside within what regional conditions allow (26) . However, the project is still in its early years and it is too early to judge its results and feasibility.

In addition to the visions of the Liberation Organization and Hamas and their effects on the role of the outside, the position of the Palestinian factions outside the framework of the organization can be considered, such as the Popular Front-General Command, Fatah Al-Intifada and the Sa’iqa, and others, which met with some of the organization’s factions abroad, such as the Popular and Democratic Fronts, in addition to Hamas and Islamic Jihad within the framework of the ten factions alliance (27)

The alliance expresses a political vision based and focused on the role of the outside in a narrow framework, including the Palestinian presence in Syria and Lebanon, and the role of the alliance is almost non-existent outside these two environments. It is a vision that may represent the Palestinian approach to the reflection of the Syrian and Lebanese position on the Palestinian issue. The first was based on the need to support the resistance as an antithesis to the regional monopoly of the Palestinian file within the framework of the settlement project, while the second – the Lebanese one – was based on the chronic local concern about the demographic and sectarian issue, which enhances the presence of the concept of the right of return for Palestinian refugees. In the post-Oslo era, whose regional and international conditions neutralized the Palestinian armed struggle from the outside, it witnessed a great growth in civil and civil work alongside the limited effectiveness of the Ten Alliance, especially with regard to the title of the right of return and its committees and institutions. 

At a time when the Syrian and Lebanese position as host countries towards the post-Oslo transformations crystallized, the third and largest host country for Palestinian refugees, Jordan, has continued its cautious and sensitive treatment of the role of the Palestinians on its soil, based on the potential disruption of this role in defining the Jordanian national identity, which is a position Perhaps it represents a constant in Jordanian politics since the beginning of the seventies of the last century; Where the discussion of the identity of power and resistance at that time between the fedayeen and the monarchy developed into a bloody conflict between the brothers.

There is a remarkable and influential movement abroad of civil society organizations, especially human rights organizations in the West, but they do not appear to be an established actor with a specific personality and political vision. Therefore, understanding the movement of Palestinian civil society abroad may be more useful in studying it as a phenomenon resulting from the positions and visions of other political actors rather than as a stand-alone actor. Considering him as an actor will make defining the boundaries, vision, and position of this actor difficult, as there is no single and specific framework governing the role of these institutions, which sometimes operate in opposing political directions. Most of them are inherently related to the attitudes and visions of other actors, or they act as a consequence or reaction to other visions.

The conclusion in this context is that the political visions of the Palestinian struggle can define the main actors in the Palestinian struggle abroad more specifically, and in two parts: Palestinian, represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamas, and the alliance of the ten factions. In the Arab world, it is represented by the country hosting the refugees, namely Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. All of these visions after Oslo did not form the basis for a national project that restores the role of the outside world, which in turn did not gain sufficient weight to reserve an important space on the agendas of the most prominent actors in the Palestinian struggle abroad.  

The external struggle and its repercussions on the roles of Palestinian actors

The spaces of action abroad remained for the Palestinians after the Oslo Accords, confined to limited forms of struggle, civil and civil, or we can say: they are non-military ( Demilitiraised ). This characteristic (non-militarization) may represent the most prominent feature of the Palestinian struggle abroad after Oslo, especially after the settlement produced a new approach that made the Palestinian national institution, which monopolizes the definition of the national project and its new modifications, a part of the official Arab system and operates within its rules. Thus, the problem of the outside was formed in this approach as well. While the areas of influence for any hoped foreign role must be concentrated in the refugee-hosting countries that surround the occupied homeland, which includes about 75% of the Palestinians outside Palestine (28)

Thus, establishing an incubator for this role in those countries or in part of them was essential in the process of restoring the role, but it only took place in functional contexts related to the political map of the region, such as the presence of Hamas in Syria, which benefited from political and training support, for example, without a comprehensive framing process For the Palestinians there or in Lebanon, as well as the presence of Hamas in Jordan in the nineties, which interacted in the spaces of the Brotherhood’s expansion that naturally exists in the country. Another feature of the struggle that has crystallized abroad is that it is not reconciled with the path of the official Palestinian political process and its project represented by the two-state solution, especially after the Al-Aqsa Intifada, and the expansion of settlements that practically reflected the blockage of the settlement path according to the proposed vision (29) .

Struggle practice abroad was formed for the first time outside the system of the traditional Palestinian struggle institution, in the form of civil committees and civil non-governmental organizations ( NGOs ), without institutional references or specific national umbrellas (30) , and these institutions exercised their effectiveness more in areas far from the official Arab system, especially in Europe, North and South America; Some experiences developed in Palestinian society in a way that allowed them to expand in the void left by the PLO, as is the case in the experience of the Conference of Palestinians in Europe, the Union of Communities in Latin America, and finally the project of the Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad, which was launched in Istanbul 2017 (31) .

The new political reality abroad has produced patterns of struggle that are isolated from the political practice of the institutions of the Palestinian political system, such as Palestinian embassies and diplomatic representations abroad due to the loss of the bureaucratic link between Palestinians abroad and these institutions. For example, the activity of the Palestinian embassy in Beirut, Damascus, Amman, or any other country in the world does not intersect with the Palestinian presence in that country except in narrow symbolic spaces. There is no bureaucratic link between the Palestinian citizen and the embassy of his country abroad, and consular transactions within the borders of the Palestinians are limited to national number holders from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In other words: the institutions of the Palestinian political system abroad play a traditional diplomatic role, often unrelated to the presence and effectiveness of Palestinians abroad as a political force with a cause.

In this regard, the most important features of the current militant role of the outside can be recorded, as follows:

  1. It is active in geographical areas far from Palestine, and from the centers of demographic and symbolic gravity of the Palestinians abroad (the camps).
  2. Most of them work outside the official or traditional national system, such as the Liberation Organization and the factions.
  3. It is not organized within a political framework, and emerges in a peaceful (non-military) civilian context.
  4. It is not reconciled with the state project at home, and even acts as a contradiction to it in some areas, especially in the refugee camps.
  5. Its effectiveness in the human rights and propaganda campaign against the occupation appears, such as the boycott movement.

As a result, it can be said: The fundamental militancy transformation abroad that emerged after Oslo worked in an inconsistent context between the national interests abroad on the one hand, and the transformations of the national project represented by building the state at home, whose idea Hamas agrees with, on the other. A role in which the importance of the geographical factor of the cordon countries hosting the refugees declined, and it contributed to a noticeable decrease in the number of Palestinians in the cordon countries, such as countries like Lebanon and Syria, especially after the war (32) .

The struggle of the outside versus “Israel” and the inside

The importance of the geographical factor of the Palestinian population density in the vicinity of Palestine declined, as previously mentioned, as a result of the transfer of the weight of the national project inward. This created an imbalance in the weight of the expected role of the Palestinians abroad. It allowed the conferences of the communities and the activities of civil and human rights institutions in Europe and the Americas to reserve important spaces in the new role of the outside at the expense of the role of the largest bloc of Palestinians in the “ring” countries neighboring “Palestine”, but it is less effective. With it, the center of the conflict with the occupation moved to new areas concentrated in the West, especially Europe and the United States, which the occupation called the “battle of delegitimization” for which it established a new ministry called the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, in 2006 (33) .

 It is a role that has witnessed a rising movement since the Al-Aqsa Intifada, which represented its real birth. It provided enough impetus for its activists to interact with Western public opinion and exploit its influences (34).. This birth, in light of the most prominent Palestinian event in the face of the occupation (the Intifada), is one of the clear indications of the extent of the internal and external linkage to the definitions of the comprehensive Palestinian national interest outside the prevailing political vision. The weak point of the external’s militancy role is directly related to its isolation from the internal project, and vice versa. The main Palestinian internal actor dealt with the outside either as a burden, as reflected in the PLO’s vision, or in the best cases as an environment with limited employment, as reflected in the activity of Hamas during the past three decades abroad. In addition, the general context of the external struggle interaction and its ability to invest in its spaces, was linked to the internal departure from the conditions of the role defined by the settlement process.(35) .  

The outside has produced new struggle approaches due to the transformations of its reality and the available tools; In light of the decline of militarization in the activity of the outside in the face of the occupation, the confrontation between the occupation and the Palestinian outside has expanded in the areas of propaganda and human rights influence, and what can be called popular diplomacy, according to which two tracks emerged. The second: the boycott campaign spearheaded by the Boycott, Disinvestment, and Sanctions ( BDS ) movement (36) , both of which are two tracks targeting international public opinion, especially Western opinion, which until recently represented one of the areas guaranteed to be biased in favor of the occupation.

It can be said that the new foreign struggle against the occupation carried a unique complexity for “Israel”, as it is peaceful and legal on the one hand, and on the other hand, it is active in the environment of strategic international support for the occupation, whose connection with it represents an issue of existential importance (37) . “Israel” is making great efforts to confront what it considered a “strategic danger”, according to Shabtai Shavit, the former head of the Mossad (1989-1996), for the boycott movement (38) . It suggests coping mechanisms such as “civil liquidation” of individuals and institutions within measures such as closing bank accounts and defaming reputations (39) . Palestinian institutions and individuals have been subjected to campaigns of distortion and inclusion on international blacklists, which have contributed to depriving them of basic rights in public life, such as movement, economic and professional practice (40) .

Until this moment, it does not seem that the outside world is able to create an organized struggle role in order to achieve the Palestinian national project, whether in its current form associated with building a state peacefully, or in its original form that sees liberation through armed struggle. This appears to be a complex problem. On the one hand, it seems difficult to achieve a militant role for the outside without agreeing on the nature of the Palestinian national project, which is witnessing a split in vision among the main actors about the mechanisms for its implementation. On the other hand, it is not possible to achieve an agreed Palestinian project without a militant definition of the role of the outsider, who represents half of the Palestinian people.

Despite the escalation of the movement to delegitimize the occupation in the world, especially in the West, the real areas of influence for the Palestinians of the ring countries seem helpless and preoccupied with their local issues, such as the issue of the denial of civil rights in Lebanon, or the definitions of national identity for the Palestinians of Jordan (holders of Jordanian citizenship of Palestinian origin In the past ten years, the issue of the Palestinians of Syria has interacted in the context of the Syrian crisis in light of the war. The Palestinians of Syria and what they were exposed to were – and still are – part of the broader Syrian scene, and their case did not acquire any Palestinian specificity outside the comprehensive understanding of the context of the Syrian war, primarily due to Palestinian considerations related to the absence of political representation from the Palestinians abroad (41) . Which can be explained by the fact that the Palestinians of the ring countries are unable to touch their national interest in any vision prevailing today.

Here, the struggle of the Palestinians abroad appears to be an involuntary adaptation to the prevailing conditions in the environment of its activity, and a spontaneous interaction with them rather than an organized struggle that proceeds according to a specific national vision. If we assume that the national interest of the outside differs from the two-state solution and is based on the demand for the right of return, the active human rights track and the boycott movement mainly invest in exposing the daily violations and racist practices (apartheid) of the occupation, which automatically pushes towards a political debate based on the one-state solution (42) . It is a solution that the main Palestinian actors, the PLO and Hamas, rejected, by virtue of their agreement on the option of a Palestinian state in the 1967 territories, whether in return for the recognition originally obtained by the PLO of the occupying state, or the refusal to recognize in return, as stipulated in the Hamas political document in 2017 ( 43) .

The future of the Palestinian struggle abroad

The successive wars and crises in the countries of the region hosting Palestinian refugees have produced a migration line towards Europe, in which the number of Palestinians has more than doubled during the last twenty years (44) . Estimates indicate that there is more Palestinian presence in European countries than there is currently in Syria and Lebanon combined (45) . Considering the migration of more than 150 thousand Palestinians from Syria towards Europe in the last ten years (46)It is expected that this issue, which includes professional competencies, will add a great effort in the field of delegitimizing the occupation in the West, and may generate new patterns of struggle, especially in the economic field in which new immigrants are active due to the backgrounds of the Syrian environment from which they immigrated. Also, the current immigration line for Palestinians, whether from abroad in the countries of the ring, or from within, especially from Gaza, has created new working environments for Palestinian activity abroad, such as Turkey, which has witnessed shifts in the position on the Palestinian issue, making it one of the most prominent centers of activity for Palestinians abroad. (47) .

All of the above may generate possibilities for the development of the role of the Palestinian struggle abroad in the European and Western environment in general, which is governed by ceilings that do not exceed the ceiling of the political process at home (48) , which is the ceiling of isolating the outside primarily from its political project, which is relegated to an authority of limited geographical and demographic autonomy. Over time, this may mean a danger towards dismantling the concept of the right of return, especially as it develops with the shrinking of the Palestinian presence in the camps of the “ring” countries, and areas of historical action abroad within the framework of the Palestinian national liberation movement.

In view of the increase in the number of Palestinians in the Western environment, and what this may impose of a greater activation of human rights defense and propaganda, and taking into account the de facto blockage of the horizon of the two-state solution imposed by the Israeli settlement in the West Bank, the development of active spontaneity of the movement abroad in that environment towards a political vision The solution seems likely, especially since the Western countries that are influenced by public opinion may be interested in producing a solution that overcomes the settlement obstacles imposed by the continuation of the “Israeli settlement” in the West Bank and made the implementation of the two-state solution impractical. This is reinforced by the escalation of talk about the practice of apartheid by the occupation against the Palestinians at home, a development that came against the background of the active human rights role abroad with international organizations (49) . Add to all this that the one-state vision is the closest to the reality of the 1948 Palestinians (50)., who represent another Palestinian arm isolated from the prevailing political visions, and converges with the visions that are escalating abroad, all of which agree on the need to transcend what is prevalent, especially after the evidence shown by their interaction in the Battle of Seif al-Quds (2021).

Recent years have witnessed a greater interest from Palestinian actors in investing in the role of abroad, due to competitive reasons between the PLO and Hamas. The latter increased its presence and activity abroad after the tripartite leadership division of the movement; The central leadership of the movement now consists of three regions, Gaza, the West Bank and abroad, which necessitated an organizational structure abroad that corresponds to the structural size of the movement’s leadership abroad (1 out of 3). On the other hand, the dead end of the settlement process at home, with the growing achievements of the external civil struggle in the areas of boycott and delegitimization of the occupation, made the outside a space towards which all parties could escape.

It may not be enough to block the horizon of the settlement project represented by building the state at home on the land of Palestine in order to restore the role of the outside, as the issue is not mutual imperatives, but rather political, geopolitical and demographic realities. The restoration of the role of the outside is closely linked to the foreign policy shifts and the local national sensitivities of the most important actor abroad, the host country, whose policies still govern the movement of about three-quarters of the Palestinians abroad. This gains its importance from the fact that the legitimacy of the Palestinian national project is governed by the numerical position of the outsider, who represents about half of the Palestinian people. This position is not an abstract numerical one, but it can be transformed into actors with a wide influence if the opportunity is given to organize it. The large Palestinian population that is still in the vicinity of Palestine is a demographic equivalent in Jordan in particular, and it is a “military” equivalent in Lebanon in the event of confrontation with Israel due to the fertility of the environment there in terms of development in this direction. 

Add to all this the economic and professional equivalent of the Palestinians of the Arab Gulf and the West. Therefore, what is lacking abroad today appears to be organizational in the first place. The failure of the settlement path and the blockage of its horizons at home may not be enough for the outside to restore its role, and here the reciprocity of the role between the inside and the outside, as expressed by some political leaders, seems irrelevant. The role of the outside in the past was not fulfilled because of its absence inside, and vice versa. In the event that the outsider loses the ability to organize, the regression of the role of the inside for any reason, such as the failure of the settlement process, for example, is not a sufficient reason, and does not alone create inevitability in the direction of the outside’s restoration of its role. The role of the outside in the past was not fulfilled because of its absence inside, and vice versa. In the event that the outsider loses the ability to organize, the regression of the role of the inside for any reason, such as the failure of the settlement process, for example, is not a sufficient reason, and does not alone create inevitability in the direction of the outside’s restoration of its role. The role of the outside in the past was not fulfilled because of its absence inside, and vice versa. In the event that the outsider loses the ability to organize, the regression of the role of the inside for any reason, such as the failure of the settlement process, for example, is not a sufficient reason, and does not alone create inevitability in the direction of the outside’s restoration of its role.


The role of the Palestinians abroad is influenced by the main Palestinian players, the PLO, Hamas, and the factions in their individual and collective capacities, and a non-Palestinian one, mainly represented by the refugee-hosting country: Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. While the movement of civil society and civil institutions is the most prominent feature of public activity for Palestine abroad, it is a phenomenon resulting from the developments of the actors’ visions and positions, not an independent actor.

While the national project produced transformations that shifted the Palestinian path from the liberation struggle to the path of state building, the outside remained not connected to the direct definitions of the “Oslo” state except within the framework of the moral imperatives of the political discourse, and it was absent from any national function related to state building. This resulted in spontaneous tracks that adapted its roles in directions appropriate to the prevailing political circumstance, most of which worked outside the framework of the traditional Palestinian institution. The national role abroad has been active in a human rights and propaganda framework, and has been isolated to a significant extent from the densely populated areas of the Palestinians in the refugee camps in the host countries.

The Palestinian struggle abroad faces great challenges related to its political environment that imposes conditions on its performance, but despite all the difficult circumstances, it still has a position to define the Palestinian national project in terms of its numerical status and power equations. Even if it lacks organization, any Palestinian national project will not be able to From building a vision that is not based on a clear recognition of the situation of about half of the Palestinian people. Perhaps it can be said: The inability of the state project to contain all the subsidiary interests of the Palestinian people at home (including the Palestinians of the 48th) and abroad, is one of several main reasons for the lack of sufficient legitimacy for the policies that were established within the framework of the Oslo state project, and consequently the entire project reached a blockage political and patriotic. The outside still possesses an important stockpile that can change the equations of conflict, but it has not received the priority of the actors’ attention in terms of organizing and investing, and meeting its needs, which come in the forefront:

About the author

Tariq Hammoud

A researcher specializing in Palestinian affairs and international relations, he holds a master’s degree in international relations from Kingston University in London, and is pursuing a doctorate at the University of Exeter in England. His interest is focused on Hamas and the Palestinian Diaspora. He has many articles and research published in both languages, Arabic and English. He is currently the Head of the Palestinian Return Center in London.REFERENCE

  1. Mohsen Saleh (Editor), Summary of the Palestinian Strategic Report 2020-2021, 1st Edition (Beirut, Al-Zaytouna Center for Studies and Consultations, 2022), pp. 11-12.
  2. previous source.
  3. Mohsen Saleh, “The most prominent failures and successes in the history of the Palestinian cause,” Al Jazeera Net, May 16, 2018, (entry date February 21, 2022):
  4. Michael B. Oren, Six Days of War, June 1967 and The Making of The modern Middle East. (New York, Oxford University Press, 2002), 308.
  5. HILLEL, FRISCH. “The Demise of the PLO: Neither Diaspora nor Statehood.” Political Science Quarterly 127, no. 2 (2012): 241–61.
  6. Ibid
  7. “The Union of Palestinian Communities in Europe: We are not expatriates but refugees,” Palestinian Return Center, October 13, 2019, (accessed March 6, 2022): /Union-of-Palestinian-Communities-in-Europe-We are not-expatriates but-refugees 
  8. According to the principles of Oslo and the two-state solution, and in light of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s recognition of the State of “Israel” in the territories occupied in 1948, the land of the refugees who were displaced from it in 1948 belongs to the State of “Israel”.
  9. Adnan Bakriya, “Abu Mazen-Beilin Document, May God have mercy on the right of return,” Zaman al-Wasl, February 18, 2009, (access date: February 8, 2022): 9258
  10. “Law No. 2 of 1999 regarding civil status,” Al-Muqtafi website archive, (accessed April 6, 2022): http://muqtafi.birzeit. edu/en/pg/getleg.asp?id=13141
  11. Under certain circumstances, the Palestinian Authority grants its passports to categories of Palestinian refugees abroad, and this passport is granted without a national number, and does not entitle its holder to enter or live in the Palestinian territories.
  12. previous source.
  13. “Palestine Refugees: Possibilities and Prospects,” Wafa Agency, Where is the date of publication? (Date of entry: February 9, 2022):
  14. Wassim Al-Zuhairi, “The Palestinians in Lebanon… A number that contradicts expectations,” Al Jazeera Net, December 21, 2017, (entry date: February 22, 2022):
  15. Ibid
  16. Mahmoud Abbas, “Madrid Conference, Putting Things Right,” Journal of Palestine Studies (Institution for Palestinian Studies, Beirut, No. 8, Autumn 1991), p. 104.
  17. Laila Hilal, “The Arab Peace Initiative, What Does It Mean for Palestinian Refugees?”, Haq al-Awda newspaper (Badil / Palestinian Resource Center for Residency and Refugee Rights, No. 34, Seventh Year, 2009), p. 16.
  18. Tariq Hammoud, The British Political Situation Shifts After Classifying Hamas Completely on the Lists of Terrorist Organizations, Al-Zaytouna Center for Studies and Consultations, December 2021, (entry date: March 5, 2022): 12/14/strategic-estimate-128-transformations-attitude-a/#.YiQCIC-l1QI
  19. Exclusive interview conducted by the researcher with Maher Salah, head of Hamas’s Kharga region, October 26, 2020, Istanbul, Turkey.
  20. Ibrahim Ghosheh, The Red Minaret, 2nd floor (Beirut, Al-Zaytouna Center for Studies and Consultations, 2015), p. 180.
  21. Exclusive interview conducted by the researcher with Yasser Azzam, a leader in Hamas Lebanon, March 27, 2021, Sidon, Lebanon.
  22. previous source.
  23. Abdel Hakim Hanini, The Methodology of Hamas in Foreign Relations: Syria as a Model 2000-2015, 1st Edition, (Beirut, Al-Zaytouna Center for Studies and Consultations, 2018), pp. 128, 130.
  24. previous source.
  25. Personal conversation with a Hamas leader, December 2020.
  26. “Hamas considers the conference of Palestinians abroad as a strategic step that restores momentum to the cause,” Al-Quds Al-Arabi, February 26, 2017.
  27. The Alliance of the Ten Factions is a frontal coordination framework that was formed in response to the settlement process. Its launch was announced from the Yarmouk camp in Damascus following the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. It includes: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, and the Sa’iqa Organization (Vanguards). The People’s Liberation War), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Fatah al-Intifada, the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front/Khaled Abdel Majid’s wing, the Arab Liberation Front/Abu Nidal al-Ashqar wing, and the Revolutionary Palestinian Communist Party/Arab Awad wing.
  28. Previous source, p. 11.
  29. Nawaf al-Tamimi, “The Palestinian Diaspora and Division,” Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, October 28, 2018.
  30. previous source.
  31. “The Final Statement of the Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad,” Website of the Popular Congress for Palestinians Abroad, February 26, 2017, (entry date February 23, 2022):
  32. previous source.
  33.  “Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy”, Prime Minister’s Office, August 1, 2019, “accessed February 23, 2022,”
  34. previous source.
  35. Walid Abdel Hai, “Estimated the position: future prospects for the battle of Seif al-Quds,” Al-Zaytouna Center for Studies and Consultations, May 25, 2021, (access date: March 9, 2022): /25/ estimate-position-future-of-battle/#.Yii_qC-l1QI
  36.  “What is BDS”, BDS, “accessed February 23, 2022,”
  37. Abdel-Wahab El-Mesiri, “The Jews and the State of Israel in Western Strategy”, Al Jazeera Net, October 3, 2004, (entry date: March 8, 2022): The Jews-and-the-State-of-Israel-in-strategy
  38. Abd al-Rahman Abu Nahl, The Israeli War against the Boycott Movement ( BDS ), website of the Palestinian Center for Policy Research and Strategic Studies-Masarat, October 16, 2016, (accessed date: February 5, 2022): https://www.masarat. ps/article/1783/files/content_files/tqdyr_mwqf_lmqt_bd_lrhmn_bw_nhl.pdf 
  39. previous source.
  40. Tamer Al-Mishal, What is Hidden is Greater – “The World Check Company” responsible for the blacklist of terrorism, YouTube, October 20, 2019, (Accessed date: February 5, 2022): ?v=BtbbPmP3orI
  41. Ibrahim Al-Ali (Editor), Palestinians of Syria and the Journey of Self-Search, (London, Action Group for Palestinians of Syria, 2020), pp. 24-25, .pdf 
  42. “Israeli Report: Apartheid will be a one-state reality,” Arab48, February 8, 2022, (entry date: February 9, 2022): 08/Israeli-apartheid-report-will-be-the-one-state reality
  43. “Policy and Principles Document,” Hamas, May 2, 2017, (date of entry: March 9, 2022):
  44. previous source.
  45. Estimates indicate that there are more than 700,000 Palestinians in Europe, while the above sources mention a decrease in the number of Palestinians in Lebanon to less than 200,000, and the Palestinians of Syria to less than 350,000.
  46. Ibrahim Al-Ali, Palestinians of Syria and the Road to Europe, (London, Action Group for Palestinians of Syria, 2017), pp. 55-56,
  47. Ali Bakir and Adnan Abu Amer, “Turkey and the Palestinian cause in light of the transformations of the Arab Spring,” Al Jazeera Center for Studies, November 6, 2012, (accessed March 9, 2022): /reports/2012/11/201211682923673950.html
  48. One of the problems of Palestinian work in the West is that it is governed by the ceiling of the peaceful political process that considers the occupation to exist in the 1967 territories. Otherwise, criminalization is possible under the sway of anti-Semitism, and the rejection of Israel’s right to exist.
  49. previous source.
  50. Awad Abdel-Fattah, “One State: A Project of Resistance, Not Just a Vision,” Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, July 26

SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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