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It couldn’t be clearer how out of touch with his people Abbas is

March 22, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Palestinians carry posters depicting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a red cross during a protest against him, 22 March 2018 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

Polls by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) are exposing the dissociation between the Palestinian Authority and the people. As Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas scrambles for a semblance of political coherence which he seeks to achieve by blaming Hamas, the Palestinian people are largely refuting the rhetoric.

Abbas’ fixation on bringing Gaza under PA control surfaces time and time again, depending upon opportune circumstances which, this time, were provided by the attempted assassination of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. According to Wafa news agency, in a recent leadership meeting in Ramallah, Abbas accused Hamas of being responsible for targeting Hamdallah in Gaza, of sabotaging the reconciliation process and of cooperating with the US to create a state in Gaza.

Abbas’s solution was to cripple Gaza further, in the same manner in which he has done in previous months and which earned Abbas a show of consolidated contempt from Palestinians. The latest punitive measures against Hamas, according to Abbas, are a necessity in order “to protect our national project”.

Wafa quoted Abbas: “We’ve never thought of punishing any Palestinian citizen, not in the West Bank or Gaza. But we have to say where the wrong is and where the crime is. This situation is unacceptable.”

Read: Jordan asks Abbas not to undermine Palestinian rights

Palestinians would clamour to differ. Not only has the PA collaborated with Israel and the US over Gaza it has also contributed towards the suffering of Palestinian families through security coordination. It has tortured Palestinians, enacted laws which annihilate their freedom of expression and carries out its collaborative duties according to the demands of Israel and the international community with diligence.

The PCPSR survey discredits Abbas’ agenda. In a survey that analyses the first quarter of 2018, Palestinian participants refuted the PA claim that Hamas is responsible for the humanitarian situation in Gaza. In Gaza, the PA is perceived as the primary culprit for the humanitarian situation, while in the overall response, responsibility is placed first upon Israel, followed by the PA.

For Palestinians Abbas and the PA are epitomes of mistrust. There is still a majority of Palestinians – 68 per cent – who want Abbas’ resignation. PA censorship was affirmed by 63 per cent of respondents and 78 per cent viewed the PA’s institutions as corrupt.

Read: Abbas is tool for ‘Deal of the Century,’ says ex-official

Participants have also provided interesting information about their views on the two-state paradigm and Palestinian reconciliation. According to the survey, “48 per cent support the two-state solution and 50 per cent oppose it”. Furthermore, only 4 per cent of participants considered “the absence of national unity” as one of the main problems faced by Palestinians.

Abbas has been prioritising the two-state compromise and Palestinian reconciliation. The survey’s results are not merely about disagreement with Abbas, but how many of Palestinians’ demands have been silenced. The answer may be found in what the PA has eliminated from politics since its inception. If the PA’s primary aim was to eliminate Palestinian identity and unity, the concepts replacing the essence of Palestine are being rightfully refuted by the people, along with Abbas’ leadership – the poll indicates that Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh would garner 52 per cent of the vote compared to 41 per cent for Abbas.

The discrepancies between Palestinian priorities and those of the PA have been magnified by Abbas’ ruthless punitive measures against Gaza, rendering his politics even more self-serving.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.