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The ‘scarecrow’ of PA decline

The American administration previously warned against the possibility of the PA collapsing if Israel continues to withhold its tax returns for the second month in a row. The withholding of these funds had led to the PA’s inability to pay all of its employees’ salaries, which, if it goes on for the next couple of months will have great consequences; such as the spread of chaos and disorder – the signs of which we have already started to see, especially in the Gaza Strip.

The US’s warning was preceded by other similar warnings from Israeli military and security leaders, who told Netanyahu that the failure to transfer the PA’s money does not serve Israeli security interests, and warned of the consequences resulting from such a move.

During this time, various members of the PA leadership, who remain anonymous, and Fatah leaders issued statements saying that the next PLO Central Council meeting will need to make critical decisions regarding Palestinian-Israeli relationship, including stopping security coordination and holding Israel accountable for its occupation. This may involve handing over the PA’s keys to the occupying forces, who have true authority.

The Israeli government has paid no attention to various warnings and threats from various European and international figures who all warned of the consequences of Israel continuing to withhold the tax money, or to the deteriorating economic and living conditions in the region. This is due to the fact that Israel utilises the withholding of taxes – along with country’s other separatist and racist measures against the Palestinians – in order to strengthen the chances of Likud or other right-wing parties winning in the next election. Secondly, Israel is aware that these threats amount to nothing more than smoke without fire, and that ending the security coordination is not part of the PA’s calculations simply because it will be greatly affected by such a decision, as much, if not more than Israel itself.

Israel’s reassurance is partly justified because if the PA were indeed intending on waging war on Israel or engaging in a real confrontation with it, ending the security coordination between the two sides will inevitably lead to a confrontation, whether or not the decision comes from the PA. the PA needs to prepare for a war or confrontation, and the first and most important step in doing so is to arrange internal Palestinian affairs on every level, especially in terms of ending internal division and restoring national unity, as well as taking measures to prevent the political and geographical division from becoming a division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This is fast approaching in light of the two sides’ insistence on their factional and individual conditions, which stem from each party’s desire to control leadership and monopolise power.

Moreover, the preparations for the confrontation require the restructuring of the PLO’s institutions and their activation, which have been in a deplorable state since the signing of the Oslo Accords. The PLO should be the supreme reference and the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

Those who are actually thinking about stopping Israeli-Palestinian security coordination and actually prosecuting Israel for the war crimes it has committed in Gaza and its ongoing crimes of settlement and occupation (the process for which can begin in April once Palestine’s request to join the International Criminal Court comes into effect), would not sign a 20-year energy agreement with Israel worth billions of dollars. This recent agreement is in direct breach of the BDS movement for the boycott of Israel, which has grown stronger in recent months and which is likely to grow in the near future. It also encourages other countries such as Jordan, which is witnessing a very intense debate over the gas deal, to strike energy deals with Israel; as well as perpetuating the Palestinian economy’s dependency on that of Israel.

In addition to the above, the current focus of the Palestinian president and the international community is the Israeli elections, in the hope that the current right-wing coalition is replaced by a more moderate left or centre-wings government. This would lead to the resumption of negotiations and seeking to reach an agreement establishing the promised Palestinian state. Failing that, such a development would at the very least maintain the current situation without allowing for the complete deterioration of the PA. Moreover, the PA is counting on the fact that even if re-elected, Netanyahu’s government will not push matters to the point of complete deterioration, as it is in its interests to put the PA on edge in order to force it to make as many concessions as possible.

This means that everything currently happening is merely a game, playing on borrowed time until they can go back to the negotiation gam – which is intended to be the only game on the field –despite the fact that this is a fatal game for the Palestinians and their cause. As Einstein said, “Insanity [is] doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

The PA was established in implementation of an agreement to allow Palestinian self-rule, and therefore it has been a burden on the Palestinian people since the very beginning. The only difference now is that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians have realised this, and therefore those who believed that the PA could be a step towards ending the occupation and establishing a real Palestinian state were shocked by the status quo established by successive Israeli governments (right-wing, centre, and left-wing). These governments progressively made the possibility of establishing a state even more unlikely.

In this context, instead of continuing to hold on to the Oslo Accords, which led to the disaster we are currently living in, and continuing to labour under the illusion that this agreement can lead to the establishment of a state, and instead of using reconciliation and the strategies of internationalisation, popular resistance, boycott and threats to end the security coordination and hand over the keys of the PA to the occupation as a pressure tactic to force the revival of negotiations, a new path must be adopted. This new path must be radically different from the current path and it must focus on fighting to change the balance of power in order for the occupation to become costly to Israel and its supporters, rather than profitable.

As part of this new path, we must reconsider the nature, structure, functions, and responsibilities of the PA. It must serve the national programme and act as one of its tools. This does not mean that the PA must turn into a resistance authority, but it must work alongside the resistance, not fight it, as this may lead to the collapse of the PA rather than its dissolution. Yes, it may collapse in the midst of a confrontation with the occupation that will not allow for the PA to change its position and role; but by that time, the PLO will be able to lead the people once its institutions are rebuilt to include all parties across the political spectrum. In addition to this, the Palestinian people believe in the justness of their cause and its moral superiority, and therefore they insist on fighting for their rights; hence they will be able to create new political forms that will ensure their existence in place of the collapsed PA.

The situation of the Palestinian cause was better before the establishment of the PA, and it is likely that it would be better after it is gone or if it turns into an authority that serves the people and their national struggle for liberation.

Until the time comes when the Palestinians will be able to bring about the required dramatic shift, the catastrophic and vicious cycle that has gone on for more than 20 years will continue, and it will destroy everyone and everything with it.

Translated from Masarat, 24 February, 2015

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