The Palestinian Authority described last week's Warsaw Summit as a US-Israeli conspiracy; US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that the Palestinians are "worse off" because of their absence. This prompted the Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organisation to ask if anyone could explain how the people of Palestine are "worse off" by not going to Warsaw.
"Can someone explain this to me?" asked Saed Erekat. "Is the art of negotiations to put the other side in a position where they have nothing to lose?"
Meanwhile, in an opinion piece published yesterday, Erekat penned some notable falsehoods, including this: "Despite the imperialist fantasies of the Trump team, the whole of Palestine remains close in the heart of every Arab, and is not going to fade away."
The normalisation of relations between Arab countries and Israel was, of course, implicit in the summit and clear for all to see. Did the veteran PLO official not notice that? Why is he squandering Palestine away by stressing its importance to external actors rather than to the Palestinians themselves?
It is not possible to describe the summit as a US-Israeli conspiracy while excluding those countries which did participate — Arab states amongst them — from criticism and scrutiny simply so that you can write an opinion piece replete with statements that do not reflect the politics of the Palestinian Authority. Erekat has claimed that Arab countries will continue to prioritise Palestine, yet there is nothing to substantiate his argument. The Arab Peace Initiative actually includes normalising relations with Israel if the two-state compromise is achieved. It does not demand an end to the colonisation of Palestine; hence, its implementation holds more prospects for Israel than it does for the Palestinians.
The PA's decision to refrain from participating in Warsaw was not a principled stance but a retaliatory action after the Trump administration implemented measures that exposed its inherent limitations. It is only now that it finds itself verging on political non-existence that the PA is attempting to connect its rhetoric to Palestinian collective memory. However, it is doing so from a compromised existence and framework that jeopardises Palestinian lives. The PA's decisions which led to further loss of territory and displacement will not be cancelled out just because it is now important, in order to safeguard itself, for it to display a facade of being at one with the Palestinians it has tortured, imprisoned and exploited, while collaborating with the international community over the elusive two-state paradigm.
Refusing to partake in compromise due to not having any other option does not eliminate the PA's compromised existence. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas stated recently that he will continue security coordination with Israel as it is a "joint agreement to fight terrorism." If that obligation is eliminated, he insisted, "nothing will remain." In upholding Israel's security narrative against legitimate Palestinian resistance, Abbas is extending his "sacred" compromise with Israel and the US.
The PA has no foundation upon which it can differentiate between one compromise and another. Palestinians have not "lost" anything with the PA's decision to boycott Warsaw. However, this is just one conference that stands out due to US President Donald Trump's overt support for Israel, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's apparently welcome overtures to Arab states. The damage created by Oslo unravelled any possibilities for Palestinian autonomy and the PA's insistence on seeking international support while lacking consensus among Palestinians due to marginalising the people from the political process must be counted as a loss, though, and one which the PA is not willing to even attempt to rectify.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.