Next year will mark 100 years of the Palestinians fighting to live a free and dignified life in their homeland. They are fighting the longest ongoing organised war against a defenceless nation. The enemy was and still is Western colonialism and the Zionist colonial settlement.
The Palestinian leaders have fought these enemies according to their abilities, and the Palestinian people followed, sacrificing the lives of their martyrs and persevering for their right to live in their country. Haj Amin Al-Husseini raised morale and called on the Muslim nation to rescue Al-Aqsa. Yasser Arafat built upon the Fedayeen organisations in Gaza, which developed into the Palestinian revolution in 1968, after the establishment of the PLO in 1964. This resulted in the restoration of the Palestinian cause to the forefront of global issues when Yasser Arafat made his speech at the UN in 1974.
However, the decline began soon after, culminating into the Oslo Accords. This agreement brought on a barrage of disasters onto the Palestinian people, more than those brought on by the Balfour Declaration.
Although Yasser Arafat was mistaken in his prediction that the Oslo Accords would be a means of partial return to the territories occupied in 1967, Mahmoud Abbas, the engineer and protector of the Oslo Accords, who sponsored its disasters, till this day, was not wrong in his assessment. In fact, the result today is the essence of his expectations.
The Oslo Accords did not once mention the Palestinians'' "rights", neither did they mention any international laws or UN resolutions. The Oslo Accords created a new Vichy government similar to the French Vichy government when France was under Nazi German occupation. The Paris Protocol, signed by Ahmed Qurei, held the Palestinian economy hostage to Israel (98 per cent of the West Bank's imports are from Israel and 78 per cent of the international aid goes to Israel), a spitting image of the Paris Protocol signed by the Vichy government with the Nazis in 1941.
Qurei backtracked and admitted that the Oslo Accords was a disaster, meanwhile Yasser Abd Rabbo abandoned the idea of cancelling the right of return under the guise of the "Geneva Convention" and we hear that Saeb Erekat has made statements regarding the corruption of the Oslo Accords.
Everyone has made such statements except for Abbas. He adheres to the Oslo Accords more than Netanyahu does himself. He did not learn any lessons from the failures he made every day for the past 23 years.
However, this all pales in comparison to the destruction of the PLO and the PNC, which were the only achievements left for us in order to remain one nation with one homeland.
Abbas also turned the Department of Palestinian Refugee Affairs, which represents two-thirds of the Palestinian people (larger than Jordan or Lebanon) into a place of retirement for a couple of employees.
He firmly refused the call for electing a new PNC, even before Hamas won the elections. He also refused to register in the ICC and took a while to accept Goldstone's findings. He neglected the rights of three quarters of the Palestinian people, and claimed that by remaining in the PA under occupation, experienced by the other quarter of the Palestinian people, he is representing all of the Palestinian people. Israel and the West have backed him because he is the only one who has agreed to cooperate with them and relinquish the Palestinian people's rights under the same pretext.
Abbas also made a public concession to Israel, witnessed by four-fifths of the Palestinian population, in which he asked the majority of the UN members to vote for a Palestinian state established one one-fifth of Palestine's land. This is contrary to the Palestinian charter that prohibits the relinquishment of even a speck of the homeland's soil without the agreement of the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people. This means that 20 per cent of Palestine has become the homeland for 12 million Palestinians, while 80 per cent of Palestine has become the homeland for five million Jews.
This is a gift not even Israel dreamed of since the Balfour Declaration and the following series of separation proposals rejected in 1937 and 1947, which have no legal standing unless the people agree to it and concede their country. Now Abbas is making this concession of the majority of Palestine on behalf of the Palestinian people.
Abbas shuttled between various Arab and Muslim countries, holding a flyer with the flags of 56 countries, preaching that they recognise Israel in exchange for Israel's recognition of a mini-state in Palestine. Israel seized the opportunity and made both public and secret relations with these countries, including Arab countries that dared to do so (they hadn't dared to do this in the past, when the Palestinian cause had its standing) based on the fact that they wouldn't be more loyal to Palestine than its "leaders".
These countries recognised Israel either explicitly or implicitly, but Israel did not recognise any sort of Palestinian state on any part of Palestine.
I do not want to remind everyone of the PA's financial and national corruption and its service to the Israeli enemy, as everyone is familiar with these facts.
However, I do want to remind everyone of the following in order to highlight the gravity of the level of deterioration we have reached. After the absence of the PLO and the emergence of the PA, there is no longer anyone in the international arena defending the Palestinians' inalienable rights, neither the rights of individuals, nor the rights of Palestinian organisations and committees in diaspora, as well as in some Arab and foreign countries that are in solidarity with Palestine. They are the ones who filled this void.
However, when they presented the demands of the Palestinian people to have their entire homeland, their right to return, and their right to resist the occupation, to official European parties, they were surprised by the response that this does not represent the official opinion they received in official correspondence and discussions. I myself can attest to this in dozens of cases.
Therefore, the burden that befalls those defending the rights of the Palestinian people is to show that these "officials" do not actually represent the Palestinian people and they have no legitimacy, neither in diaspora, as they were not elected by them, nor in the territories occupied in 1967, as their legitimacy ended years ago.
The Palestinian people now have, for the first time, enemies of their rights amongst their own ranks and are forced to resist them, along with their traditional enemies. This is the epitome of tragedy.
Of course the solution is that the Palestinian people insist on electing a new PNC for their population of over 12 million, the majority of whom are young people born after the Oslo Accords. They must refuse to allow those they did not elect to decide their fate; those who are against their rights and who have shrunk their homeland into a small patch in service of the occupation.
Therefore, the Palestinian people must raise their voices and organise themselves in a general national assembly. They must call for the election of a new PNC and the sweeping of the Palestinian system with the broom of democracy. The Palestinians must bring forward a new young leadership, as a clean new slate that deserves this nation who has continuously fought for their freedom for a century, despite its many enemies.
Translated from Rai Al-Youm, 20 December 2016
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.