The Public Spirit
By Dr. Hanan Ashrawi
October 01, 2001

The Intifada has laid bare Israel's, and particularly Sharon's, understanding of security as separate from the occupation itself and as a prerequisite for peace. It has exposed the real nature of the occupation, which is the major source of insecurity, instability and violence. On the Palestinian side, an immense public spirit and political will have shown that we can act together, as a nation, to resist occupation and withstand coercion, intimidation and subjugation.

While the Intifada has also shown that it can be a corrective force, both internally and internationally, in terms of policies and strategies, it has not achieved its real objective, which is not simply resisting the Israelis but ending the occupation and bringing about a real transformation in the policies of Israel and the West in general.

The uprising is not just one thing: it is made up of many different types of action. I see it as an expression of the will to resist, of the spirit of a people that will not succumb to coercion and subjugation. It will continue, of course, and I believe the most effective means of continuation is to create a solid Palestinian internal front based on a real nation-building process. Still, popular protests and acts of resistance -- political, human resistance -- are necessary to demonstrate the people's will. In that sense, too, the Intifada will continue, because it constitutes an intervention in reality and a check on violence. It is creating alternatives and an authentic reality, but it also has a political, information and public agenda.

So the Intifada will continue; but I think it requires a particular reformulation and articulation of a long- term strategy, both for the sake of internal cohesiveness in nation- building and in order to maintain resistance against the occupation. This will also bolster the people's ability to continue defying, exposing and, ultimately, defeating Sharon's policy so that they can bring about the best and most equitable solution.

* The writer is high commissioner for media relations at the Arab League.