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What got the Palestinian President angry?

November 2, 2018 at 12:26 pm

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on 12 October 2018 [Thaer Ganaim/Apaimages]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seemed angry during the opening session of the 30th PLO Central Council, mainly at representatives of factions and independent figures who decided not to attend the session.

We are not talking about the Hamas and Jihad movements as they are not even represented in the PLO’s institutions. We are talking about factions of the PLO such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The President said their non-participation was a disgrace. How could a faction or a member of the PLO boycott a meeting of such a high level of importance at this very serious time where settlement expansion is at its worst level and the Balfour Declaration 2, or Deal of the Century as it has become known, is about to be announced?

The President spoke of democracy in Palestine saying that it is the best in the world and that anyone who had a different point of view could have expressed it under the council’s roof and not outside it.

We were disturbed by the images of empty seats in the meeting which appeared to be a Fatah meeting or a second version of the Revolutionary Council meeting, hadn’t it been for the presence of some very small factions.

And unlike the President we are upset by the images of some representatives and delegates to the Central Council as we have no idea how they came to represent us who selected them and how long they’d be staying. And if we were to be sure not to be accused of promoting a political void we would’ve answered with a big no to the question asking whether the Council represents the Palestinian People or not.

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Not only are the PLO factions and those who stayed outside it absent from the Central Council meeting Mr. President, but also all groups of Palestinians including those in the creative industry and those who have achieved so much from two successive generations of Palestinians have ended up outside the PLO and its institutions.

I suggest you check the names of at least the new members of the Central Council and ask those who nominated and selected them why they did so and what the true motives behind their selection were. And what is true for the PLO Central Council is true for the National Council as well.

Anyway, why do factions and anyone who has the ability to go to the trouble of participating in such a meeting do so while all other meetings preceding it ended up with resolutions on paper only with nothing implemented?

And who could guarantee that this session would lead to serious and exceptional resolutions? And even if that happened, who can guarantee that such resolutions would be respected and implemented?

Why attend if all we can do is say what we want, while the very few elites of decision and policy makers have the freedom to do whatever they want to do, including putting the resolutions issued by both the Central and National Councils on the highest shelves or hide them in the deepest drawers only to be forgotten?

Is it going to be enough to criticise those who did not show up to the meeting while leaving spokespersons free to accuse them of many things, including colluding with the Deal of the Century, backstabbing and conspiracy?

Is this the national dialogue we’re having at a time of chaos, loss of compass, loss of horizon and a state of frustration that prevails over all Palestinians while the land is being stolen and rights are lost one by one?

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I can remember when intensive workshops would be held prior to the National Council and the Central Council’s meetings, where leaders of factions would fly to Aden, Algeria and other countries in an effort to reach compromise and reconcile.

It is true that the late Yasser Arafat was not disciplined by or obliged to obey these decisions, but George Habash, Naif Hawatmeh, Abu Ali Mustafa and others all had a sense of partnership.

Palestinian children walk past a mural depicts former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat [file photo]

Palestinian children walk past a mural depicts former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat [file photo]

This is no longer the case. Everyone feels that they’re member of a chorus that plays a single melody, or that they’re member of a large group of extras, with nothing to do but applaud.

Where is partnership in leadership and decision making? Where is the institutional policy making? Where is the collective leadership? Where are the consultations and preparations and where is the unified leadership framework?

Is it permissible to blame everyone without exception and then forget our responsibility? Have they been invited to attend an extraordinary meeting or a pre-arranged marriage?

Is it reasonable for us to be ahead of critical decisions without going through the trouble of coordination, consultation, overcoming obstacles and building consensus and understandings? Is this how things are done now at the Palestinian National Movement?

This article first appeared in Arabic in The New Khaleej on 2 November 2018

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