Saturday,22 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1194, (24-30 April 2014)
Saturday,22 September, 2018
Issue 1194, (24-30 April 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Is the PA reaching the moment of truth?

Disbanding the Palestinian Authority is again in the air as an option for the Palestinians in the face of Israeli intransigence. Will it happen this time, asks Khaled Amayreh

Al-Ahram Weekly

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has warned that it may pass responsibility for the occupied Palestinian territories back to occupying power Israel if peace talks remain stalled.

An unnamed PA official said the Palestinians told American envoy Martin Indyk on Friday that unless Israel releases Palestinian prisoners as agreed in American-mediated talks and freezes settlement building, they could dismantle the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) of Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

“The Palestinians informed Indyk that if this Israeli intransigence continues, they have several options to resort to,” the Palestinian official told a Western news agency on condition of anonymity.

“First, handing the keys of the PA to the UN so it will become in charge of the Palestinian people and the State of Palestine, which is under occupation, or that the (Israeli) occupation assumes again full responsibility for everything.”

It is unclear though if the PA is awakening to the fact that the so-called peace process with Israel has been a constant fraud from its very inception.

The PA, which lives on Western aid, is reluctant to withdraw from the widely discredited peace process, apparently fearing financial and political collapse.

Nonetheless, there is no doubt that PA frustration with Israeli recalcitrance and prevarication is reaching the highest point ever. Even people who until recently argued for giving the peace process “another chance” are now demanding the PA end this “game of make believe”.

Likewise, the PA is losing whatever faith it may still harbours on the US’s ability to exert any meaningful pressure on Israel to abandon its lebensraum policy in the West Bank, especially in East Jerusalem, that Palestinians insist must be the capital of their future state.

Indeed, American impotence in dealing with Israel, which is by no means a novel aspect of American foreign policy in the Middle East, is convincing even the most ardent erstwhile supporters of the peace process of the futility of relying on Washington to force an increasingly Talmudic Israel to allow for the establishment of a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state along 1967 borders.

A few days, this writer met a high-ranking Palestinian official in Amman, Jordan. The official, who didn’t want his name published, intimated that most if not all PA officials in Ramallah were reaching the conclusion that it was no longer possible to “go on in this pointless track”.

“I think that even (Mahmoud) Abbas is realising that the Americans are not serious enough about the creation of a true and sovereign Palestinian state.”

The official described the oft-threatened PA move to join international organisations as “more or less our last weapon before entirely giving up the two-state solution strategies and formally opting for the one-state solution.”

But Israel vehemently rejects the one-state concept since it would effectively make Israel a bi-national state and put an end to the Jewish identity of the Israeli State.

More to the point, it is widely believed that the demographic scale is already tipping in favour of the Arabs in the area between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea.

The right-wing Israeli political-security establishment is well aware of this “troubling fact” and is refusing to communicate the truth to Israeli Jewish citizens lest this produce “undesirable effects”, especially on negotiations with the Palestinians.

Instead, Israel adopts a strategy whereby the Palestinians would be politically and economically squeezed so hard as to make them accept the best possible deal for Israel and Zionism. Such a deal would assume the form of an utterly deformed entity on parts of the West Bank, surrounded by Jewish settlements, and without any real sovereignty.

In addition, the international borders of the would-be entity would be controlled by Israel for many decades to come. As to Jerusalem and the refugee cause, the Palestinians would have to exercise “pragmatism” and forget about both issues.

Israel, using America’s political and diplomatic sword, would also bully Arab states, including Cairo, to “convince” the Ramallah leadership to be “pragmatic and not indulge in daydreaming about the recovery of Jerusalem and the repatriation of Palestinian refugees”.

Israel hopes that under a torrent of Arab pressure, especially if coupled with generous financial inducements, the Palestinian leadership — ie Abbas — would surrender to the “fait accompli” and tell his people that he can’t be more Arab than the Arabs and more Muslim than the Muslims.

More to the point, Abbas and his supporters in the West Bank would probably launch a huge propaganda campaign, defending the capitulatory deal on the grounds that the Palestinians face a fateful moment: either lose everything or abide by international will and accept the peace agreement despite its flaws.

None know for sure if the hardcore Fatah movement would allow such an ignominious liquidation of the Palestinian cause to pass. There are numerous people around Abbas who would follow the Palestinian saying about the Eid lamb: “Feed me today, kill me tomorrow.” This is chorus around the man who said he wouldn’t want to return to his native town, Safad.

But the bulk of the Palestinian people, including numerous Fatah supporters, would strongly and angrily reject the selling out of Palestinian rights for a state unworthy of its name.

A few weeks ago, Abbas told Fatah’s Revolutionary Council in Ramallah that he wouldn’t end his life with a betrayal of the Palestinian cause.

Palestinians hope and pray that Abbas will stick to his words.

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