Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’s silence would be preferable to the ceremonial appropriation of the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle. On the 15th anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death, or possible murder, Abbas opted for additional erosion of such struggle, issuing a string of statements amounting to nothing more than outright lies which damage the Palestinian cause.
“Our revolution is a national liberation movement that deserves to be respected,” Abbas declared. “We reject what does not agree with our rights and what our people do not accept.”
If Arafat was the first leader to compromise Palestinian resistance on such a large scale in 1993 by agreeing to the Oslo Accords, Abbas has ensured additional damage for Palestinians. In terms of political representation from Palestinian factions, the call for liberation has been muted, with occasional exceptions, none of which were articulated by the PA. Arafat’s recognition of Israel, along with his acquiescence to the concessions inscribed in the Oslo Accords, are also part of the history which led to the current debate regarding the two-state compromise and the US “deal of the century”. With these two options and purportedly “no plan B” as articulated by the international community and endorsed by the PA, where is the “revolution” that Abbas pontificates about on ceremonial occasions?
Perhaps the PA’s refusal to engage with the US about its forthcoming agenda is being construed as revolution by Abbas. The fact that Palestinians have also expressed opposition to US interference is being exploited by the PA as backing for its own political conspiracy with the international community. Revolution, though, requires a leadership which has its roots within history and collective memory, as history has portrayed on several occasions; the Cuban Revolution is a prime example. The PA’s hierarchy does not qualify in this regard, having been established mainly to maintain the illusion of a Palestinian state and force Palestinians to comply with the charade.
While constantly grovelling for the international community to “uphold” its commitment to the two-state paradigm, the PA has performed its role with diligence, contributing to Gaza’s humanitarian deprivation and stifling dissent in the occupied West Bank. With these duties against the Palestinian people enforced, the PA buys more time in terms of power and relevance to the international community and against the Palestinian cause.
As the PA retained its power through becoming a colonial extension to Israel, Abbas’s attempt at delivering purportedly revolutionary speeches adds to the debacle. The PA, for example has not heeded the Palestinian people’s adamant and unified voices regarding the right of return, trading its legitimacy for symbolic concessions which eliminate the validity of legitimate rights. Without emphasising the Palestinian right of return as a priority to be upheld in its entirety and from within the Palestinian narrative, there is no liberation of Palestine.
The PA exists to oppress Palestinians on behalf of Israel and the international community. Just because the Palestinian people and the PA have expressed opposition to the so-called deal of the century, this cannot be read as proof of revolutionary intent from the PA’s side. With the PA masquerading as leadership, there are no prospects for unified revolution in Palestine. Contrary to its expressions of revolutionary rhetoric – even if just for the commemoration of Arafat’s demise – the PA is one of the prime obstacles hindering the Palestinian right to engage in anti-colonial struggle as determined and legitimised by international law.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.