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Arab aid for the PA continues to marginalise the Palestinian people and their rights

Palestine's Ambassador and Permanent Representative at the Arab League hold a joint press conference following Arab League Council's extraordinary meeting on Jerusalem in Cairo, Egypt on 16 May, 2018 [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]
Palestine's Ambassador and Permanent Representative at the Arab League hold a joint press conference following Arab League Council's extraordinary meeting on Jerusalem in Cairo, Egypt on 16 May, 2018 [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]

The Arab League has pledged $100 million per month as aid to the Palestinian Authority in its ongoing financial crisis, as long as there is no departure from the status quo of normalising Israel’s colonial presence in Palestine and the international impositions which have contributed to the prevailing dispossession of Palestinians.

With US President Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” looming, there appears to be a burst of activity by the international parties whose rhetorical support for “Palestinian aspirations” is contradicted by vested interests in normalising links with Israel. The Arab League is no exception; international law and legitimacy, both of which have been manipulated to accommodate Israel’s colonisation of Palestine, are the parameters determining the financial aid given to the PA.

Financing the PA is being presented as opposition to Trump’s deal. Once again, the illusion of an international community united against a threat to Palestinian independence is prevalent. Yet, from the details that have emerged so far, Trump is proposing a perpetuation of aid to compensate for the absence of a state. The difference between Trump and the international community is the fact that the US has now adopted overt tactics rather than behind the scenes trickery.

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Isolating the PA, both financially and politically, has also exposed its fragile existence in terms of leadership. In order to maintain its standing within the international community, the PA has persistently adhered to an externally-imposed framework for the future of Palestine, and marginalised the Palestinians in the process. However, such blind acquiescence to the international community’s manipulation of the Palestinian cause was never enough to safeguard the political structure serving all purposes apart from Palestinian demands for justice, freedom and independence.

The parallels of humanitarian aid for Palestinians and financial assistance for the PA expose how the international community has fuelled dependency. The PA, which has persistently refused to listen to the Palestinian people and articulate their demands, made inroads in the international community by paving the way for Palestinians to become permanent recipients of aid, rather than participants in a valid and just political process.

Indeed, the only political participants recognised by the PA are the security services, referred to by PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh when he reflected that Israel’s withholding of tax revenue would have “grave repercussions” in terms of security. The PA provides what Mahmoud Abbas has called “sacred” security coordination with the Israeli occupation authorities.

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Without the backing of the Palestinian population, the PA is fast discovering that it is very much dispensable. Finding financial support is only a question of how relevant the PA is for the political actors pledging their assistance, no matter how much this is disguised under purported concern for the Palestinian people who have been ethnically cleansed from their land, to the point that neither their legitimate return to their land nor an ostensibly independent state are viable unless there is a radical shift to a process which directly involves the people themselves.

Abbas has stated that Arab support is crucial for Palestine, a realisation that has apparently only hit home because the PA’s existence is in real jeopardy. Yet even on this occasion, and despite the looming ramifications for Palestinians, the people are once again far from a concern to the PA and its donors. On the contrary, funding the PA keeps the Oslo Accords relevant in terms of discourse, with the added benefit of pretending to counter Trump’s deal.

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

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