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Problem and Hope - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The troubled Palestinian situation has reached an alarming deadlock with the passage of time, while the chasm continues to widen between Hamas in Gaza on one hand, and government authority and the PLO in the West Bank on the other.

In light of the state of immobility between the two main blocs in Palestinian society, it seems that the time has come and the conditions are appropriate to find a way out of this crisis situation. Perhaps discussion about a “third alternative” is due, at least in hope of bringing about a moral and psychological impact whilst attempting to break free of the deadlock with a serious solution.

Today, the name of a famous Palestinian businessman, Munib al Masri, has surfaced as a practical and non-politicized leader. Al Masri, 72-years-old, no longer hides his political ambitions and has moved into his palace in Nablus even though he is financially capable of living in London or Paris. The prominent businessman is dubbed the Palestinian Ross Perot; the American business man who nominated himself as a third party and an alternative to the Republicans and Democrats. Al Masri has also been branded as the Palestinian Rafik Hariri by some.

Perhaps the opportunities available to al Masri to bring about political mobility can be summed up in two reasons: The first factor is the Palestinian anger towards the failure of Hamas as a political party and as a movement, in addition to the accusations that it has hurled against Fatah. The second factor is the outcome of the struggle between the two movements over power and the brutal contention over the political decision-making process. The aftermath of this struggle has become a losing battle for all sides in which every party is relentlessly pitted against the other.

But there is another important factor that increases Munib al Masri’s political opportunities, which is his record as a self-made, successful and wealthy businessman. He has even directly contributed to some of the most important milestones in the Palestinian economy; he was one of the major contributors to the Palestinian telecommunications company Paltel, as well as the Palestinian stock exchange in Nablus.

Munib al Masri is aware that he is no longer a young man and for this reason he is keen to elicit a positive mobility, with particular emphasis on the unemployed youth, by offering them training programs and job opportunities instead of sending them out to the streets to demonstrate, shout and reject, raising flags and slogans of various movements and parties.

One of the solutions to the current Palestinian crisis is to think out-of-the box and to consider a great number of elements and success stories that lie outside of the traditional political system, which is presently ineffective.

Munib al Masri, among others, represents a ray of hope at a time when hope is a precious and valuable commodity. The Palestinian problem is a convoluted one and it is becoming more complicated as a result of self-generated problems created by the Palestinians themselves.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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