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The PA is an obstruction to Palestinian unity

August 1, 2023 at 1:58 pm

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (C) makes a speech during meeting of Palestinian groups’ general secretaries in El Alamein, Egypt on July 30, 2023 [Palestinian Presidency/Anadolu Agency]

The entire world recognises the Palestine Liberation Organisation as the sole representative of the Palestinian people, but this does not mean that the Palestinians are tethered to the same stagnant politics. The latest rhetoric from Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas about Palestinian unity was yet another exercise in authoritarianism, completely neglecting the fact that the PLO’s acquiescence to international diplomacy spelled the end of the unified Palestinian anti-colonial resistance. An equally disturbing and important consideration is Fatah’s monopoly over the PLO and the PA, which renders it a support base for Abbas’s illegitimate rule. Abbas, of course, is the head of all three organisations.

Speaking in Egypt at a meeting for leaders of Palestinian factions, Abbas stated that, “It is not acceptable for any Palestinian to have reservations about the PLO and its national and political programme.” Is he saying that Palestinians should have no reservations about the Oslo Accords, for example, which the PLO negotiated with disastrous consequences for Palestinians and the complete marginalisation of Palestinian refugees?

Oslo Accords, the 25th Anniversary - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Oslo Accords, the 25th Anniversary – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The PA leader’s premise for speaking about unity was Hamas establishing itself in Gaza in 2007 after Fatah lost the 2006 democratic elections and the Islamic movement’s electoral triumph was rejected by the international community and the PA. Yet, the PA leader continues to exhibit no knowledge of what unity actually means. On the contrary, his speech emphasised Ramallah’s fixation on Palestinian subjugation to the apartheid state of Israel and its allies, which is something that Fatah needs to fix from within, instead of projecting it onto other Palestinian factions. Fatah is an obstacle to Palestinian unity and the PA is its obstructionist tool, as the people of occupied Palestine have experienced only too well.

According to Wafa news agency, Abbas called the factions’ meeting in Cairo to “study ways to achieve national unity”. However, he also determined that only peaceful popular resistance is the way forward for Palestinians. “We have practised different forms of struggle at different stages in our national march, and we see today that peaceful popular resistance, at this stage, is the best way to continue our struggle and achieve our national goals.”

Wafa reported Abbas as describing peaceful popular resistance as “A well-studied choice.” Studied by who? What about the Palestinian resistance that has managed to unite adherents of different factions for a new phase in the struggle against Israel’s settler-colonialism?

A unified Palestinian resistance incorporates all means of legitimate anti-colonial struggle. Abbas, however, is intent on forcing the Palestinian resistance to remain under the dominion of what the international community deems acceptable and not disruptive to Israel’s colonial expansion in any way. Hence, the focus on peaceful popular resistance, which does not reflect the Palestinian people’s experience, given the colonial framework such resistance faces.

WATCH: Abbas calls for national unity against ‘Israeli aggression’

The PA only promotes the concept of peaceful popular resistance as a struggle that is appealing to the dissociated international community. But given that the Palestinians face rubber bullets, Israeli state and settler violence, as well as the brutality of the PA’s security services when they embark upon peaceful popular resistance, why is Abbas so adamantly against armed resistance?

The bottom line is this: Abbas advocates for anything that would weaken the Palestinian people; anything that places them at a disadvantage when facing the combined violence of security “coordination”, the euphemism for collaboration with the occupation state. One outcome of the Cairo meeting remains unsaid and yet it is vital for it to be articulated: the PA itself is an obstruction to Palestinian unity.

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