Espanol / English

Middle East Near You

The PA is authoritarian yet lacks authority

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) and US President Donald Trump shake hands before a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on 20 September, 2017, in New York [Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images]

It is easy to lose count of the number of futile challenges made by the Palestinian Authority to Israel since the collapse of the last negotiations led by Former US Secretary of State John Kerry between 2013 and 2014. The repeated challenge given prominence by the Times of Israel was recently made by Saeb Erekat.

“I challenge Mr Netanyahu [to meet Abbas], officially. He can choose any country, any country on earth.” Meanwhile, an unnamed Israeli official stated that Netanyahu would meet Abbas anywhere “without preconditions”. This is just an extension of a decades-long farce. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is not in a position to dictate conditions, having squandered the remnants of Palestinian independence and is now scrambling to save face, needless to say, unsuccessfully. Israel, on the other hand, has no incentive to meet Abbas anywhere as his government’s incentives come from within and depend solely on the acquiescence of the international community, which is unlikely to alter its stance.

READ: Israel shoots dead Palestinian in West Bank

Erekat’s challenges will be recorded by the media but ultimately fail to accomplish anything other than underscore the PA’s deterioration in terms of political bargaining. This decline is inherent and it is now revealing itself as a destructive force which will take Palestinians down with it, but not the PA hierarchy. It is important not to forget that the PA was created to extend colonial control among Palestinians – a role which it perfected through the years. On the other hand, the presence of a purported Palestinian representation gave it an undeserved legitimacy to negotiate on behalf of the people.

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat [Issam Rimawi/Apaimages]

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat [Issam Rimawi/Apaimages]

The result is an increasingly authoritarian presence among Palestinians with no authority when it comes to dealing with Israel and the international community.

Palestinians are aware of how the PA speaks of taking the initiative when the damage is irreversible. When Erekat, or anyone from the PA for that matter, speak of challenges, it is important to dissociate Palestinians from this political charade that continues to reap victims from the indigenous population, who are later exploited by both coloniser and collaborator.

The PA speaks of a concept of Palestine that is alien to Palestinians. This is because in PA circles the only possible Palestine is a fragmented territory determined by the international community, even if this territory dwindles to nothing.

READ: Israeli forces injure 4 Palestinian protesters

Palestinians speak of historic Palestine, of their right to land and return. These concepts are alien to the PA as they do not form part of their compromised foundations.

Under the Trump Administration, which has overtly flaunted US plans for Israel, the PA has been completely exposed as an authority that only defends its own interests. The Palestinian right of return, Jerusalem, closing down the PLO office in Washington and withdrawing financial aid from UNRWA are topics about which international conferences are planned and state visits to garner support are made. At the same time the PA refuses to negotiate with the US as a broker, and rightly so, and at the same time continues its association with the CIA in the name of alleged security issues. Perhaps it won’t be long before the PA assimilates to the security concern rhetoric that forms Israel’s favourite catchphrase.

US decision to cut UNRWA funding – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

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

Asia & AmericasBlogBlogs - PoliticsIsraelMiddle EastOpinionPalestineUS
The Palestinian History Tapestry: Exhibition and Panel Discussion