Sunday,22 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1129, 3 - 9 January 2013
Sunday,22 October, 2017
Issue 1129, 3 - 9 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Abbas contemplates dissolving PA

Mahmoud Abbas is again threatening to collapse the Palestinian Authority if Israeli attitudes don’t change. Many believe he is serious this time, writes Khaled Amayreh

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Frustrated by the continuation of Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, notwithstanding international criticisms, Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas this week threatened to dissolve the Palestinian self-rule regime if the next Israeli government continues to pursue an anti-peace approach.

Israel is scheduled to hold general elections 22 January that many observers say will produce an extreme right wing government.

Speaking in interview with Haaretz newspaper, Abbas said he would only wait a few weeks and if the Israeli posture didn’t change, he would have a real surprise for the Israelis and the world at large.

“If the next Israeli government refuses to honour peace commitments and keeps up seizing our land and building settlements, I will ask [Israeli Prime Minister] Binyamin Netanyahu to sit down in my place. I will throw the keys [of the PA] unto him and leave.”

Abbas has made numerous threats to dissolve the PA in the past but failed to act on them. However, sources close to the aging Palestinian leader, as well as some serious pundits, argue that, “This time is going to be different.”

“This time he seems to be serious. He seems to have realised that the situation cannot continue as it has been where Israel defies the entire world by stealing our land and killing the prospects of establishing a viable Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital,” said Abbas Zaki, a prominent Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) official and confidante of the PA leader.

“The world community has granted us recognition as an observer state. If the world cannot stand up to its own decisions, that is up to the world. But as far as we are concerned, we can no longer be part of this game of make believe.”

Other Palestinian officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said Abbas would be committing a political suicide if he didn’t act on his threats.

“The Palestinian people are already disillusioned and cannot take it anymore,” said one official. “The time to take a decisive decision is now, and if we continue to complain, repeat the usual platitudes, and make idle threats, the world won’t believe us anymore,” added another.

 

UNPALATABLE PROVOCATIONS: Since the UN General Assembly recognised Palestine as an observer state of the world body in November, Israel has taken a number of highly controversial — and provocative — decisions to build thousands of additional settler units in the Jerusalem region and other parts of the occupied West Bank.

The fresh settlement projects include a huge colony to be built between East Jerusalem and the settlement of Maali Adumim, four kilometres eastward. The planned settlement would divide the West Bank into two halves, cut each off from the other, and put an end to any demographic continuity between occupied Arab East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. It would also spell the end of Palestinian hopes for a state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The PA leadership, along with Arab-Muslim world, view the Israeli settlement plans as lethal to what remains of the stalled peace process. Moreover, the bulk of the international community, including Europe and the United States, denounced the Israeli decisions, calling on Tel Aviv to rethink plans to expand settlements.

However, the Israeli government has responded to international criticisms with characteristic recalcitrance, with Prime Minister Netanyahu scoffing at critics, saying “We are building in our own capital; this is nobody’s business.”

According to informed Palestinian sources in Ramallah, Netanyahu’s defiant stance has convinced the PA leadership that “Netanyahu can never be an honest peace partner.”

“I think Netanyahu is an extremist. It is sad that it has taken us so long to realise this fact,” said Hani Al-Masri, a Ramallah-based columnist close to PA decision-makers.

 

NOT AN EASY DECISION: Dissolving the PA regime wouldn’t be an easy decision. As many as a million Palestinians depend for their livelihood on salaries paid by the PA to some 175,000 employees and civil servants, including some 70,000 security personnel tasked with “maintaining law and order”. Others oversee security coordination with Israel, an extremely important matter for Zionist regime.

But proponents of the dissolution of the PA argue that the Ramallah regime has already become a serious liability for the Palestinian national cause and struggle for liberation and justice. Ahmed Qurei, a former prime minister under Yasser Arafat, is a strong advocate of dissolving the PA if “here is no other option to attain our freedom”.

“I don’t think any Palestinian would accept to trade the [Palestinian] Authority for a Palestinian state. Therefore, we must be willing and ready to dissolve the PA if this is what it takes to establish a genuine state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

Abbas’s threat to dissolve the PA has been criticised, however, by several Palestinian commentators. One columnist argued that Abbas had no right to dissolve the PA.

“The PA is not a personal possession of Mahmoud Abbas to dispose of as he sees fit. He should leave the matter to the Palestinian people,” said Talal Okal, a prominent journalist and political analyst.

In addition to the political deadlock resulting from Israeli intransigence and the inability of the international community to pressure or force Israel to abandon its colonialist enterprise at the Palestinians’ expense, the PA is facing a suffocating financial crisis unprecedented since the Oslo Accords were signed 20 years ago.

The PA government has failed to pay salaries, generating uncertainty and rumours of the near dissolution of the PA regime. This is also coinciding with a mounting frequency of strikes and protests by schoolteachers and other civil servants.

The Arab League last month promised to secure a financial cover for the PA amounting to $100 million per month to make up for tax and customs revenues withheld by Israel as punishment for the Palestinian diplomatic achievement at the UN.

However, as of now, not a penny of the pledged sum has been transferred to the coffers of the Ramallah regime.

This week, Arab League Chief Nabil Al-Arabi and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed kamel Amr arrived in Ramallah to “discuss the deteriorating crisis”. The two guests, however, had little to console the PA with, apart from advice to be patient.

One PA official was quoted as accusing the Obama administration of “instructing Arab regimes to renege on financial pledges to the PA, in order to pressure the PA to give more concessions to Israel.”

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