الرئيسية » هاني المصري »   27 حزيران 2013

| | |
هاني المصري


He left it to an unidentified individual to inform puzzled reporters that the Prime Minister had resigned, and that he had sent his letter of resignation to PA headquarters.  Why did Hamdallah not ask to meet with President Abbas to request the authorities he needed to do his job? At least he could then have resigned in a more conventional manner. The answer: He asked Abbas by telephone whether the latter had given Hamdallah's deputy, Mohammad Mustafa, full financial authority, and when Abbas replied in the affirmative, Hamdallah was angered and acted as he did.
If we assume that this was not the reason however, did Hamdallah resign because of U.S., European and Arab pressures on the Palestinian leadership to force it to resume peace talks unconditionally? Or did it have something to do with a power struggle between various political and economic circles within and without the PA? Or was it because Hamdallah, an academic and an outsider to the intrigues of the Palestinian political machine, simply walked away the moment he realized that he was not a genuine premier but simply a government employee in a system in which the President holds all the reins of power – and that his two deputies were there to take his place, not to assist him, especially as they were close to Abbas and were candidates for the top post?
One factor that could have made Hamdallah's mind up was the huge pile of unsolved problems he discovered on his desk the day he was appointed. He simply found that he was out of his depth and did the only honorable thing: Resign. Besides, Hamdallah was not allowed to choose his own ministers or his deputies.
But why did Hamdallah agree to become Prime Minister in the first place? After all, he knew that he would not be calling the shots. The Palestinian Basic Law stipulates that the Prime Minister is entitled to appoint one deputy (with a cabinet portfolio), while Hamdallah was compelled to coexist with two Abbas-appointed deputies without portfolios.
In fact, this could be the most plausible reason for his resignation, given the absence of an official account. The fact of the matter is that Hamdallah wanted to save his skin and return to his isolated cloister in Najah University. For his part, President Abbas accepted his Prime Minister's resignation because trust between him and Hamdallah had irretrievably broken down, especially after the latter rejected Abbas' offer to grant him more authorities but without removing his two deputies (or one of them at least) or reshuffling the cabinet. Whatever the case may be, there is great anger within the Palestinian leadership at Hamdallah. His resignation in such a manner and at this particular time exposed the weaknesses and deficiencies of the Palestinian political system – a system that is suffering from a number of crises chief
-- First, is a crisis of legitimacy and points of reference, apparent in the PLO's paralysis after the signing of the Oslo accords and the creation of the PA. Since its creation, the PA has expanded at the expense of the PLO, which can no longer pretend to represent the entire Palestinian people, especially after Hamas won a majority in legislative elections. The PLO has not even convened a meeting of the Palestinian National Council in a long time. In fact the PNC is now semi-defunct, what with many of its members dead, ill or simply too old to function.
--Then the PA has seen its legitimacy eroded because (a) its point of reference, the PLO, has lost influence, and (b) because its political program – peace through negotiations – has reached a dead end thanks to expanding Jewish settlements, continuing Israeli intransigence, and Washington's unwillingness to exert meaningful pressure on Israel.
--The legitimacy of the Palestinian political order has been eroded because it lost the ability to draw such legitimacy from resisting Israeli occupation or from the ballot box, (presidential elections are four years overdue, while legislative elections have so far been delayed three years). The continuing and deepening rift between Fatah and Hamas exposes the political order for the sham it is. This applies especially to Fatah and Hamas, the parties responsible for the split and its continuation.
--Then we have the crisis caused by the [1993] Oslo Agreement and its consequences. Oslo led to a catastrophe, caused by Israel's total disregard of the agreements it signed with the Palestinians, and by the Palestinians' dogged adherence to its clauses. This is despite the UN decision to grant Palestine non-member observer status. The Palestinians thus have to unilaterally adhere to the security, political and economic commitments they made under Oslo. The PA thus effectively became a lame duck administration with most of its powers usurped by Israel. This situation was aggravated by the Israeli incursion in the West Bank in February 2009, which saw the PA's powers diminish still further, so much so that it became 'an authority with no authority,' totally beholden to unjust agreements and conditional aid. It is indeed ironic to see the President and Prime Minister quarrelling over non-existent powers in an administration that lacks any real authority. What authority the PA has does not exceed that of administering a people under occupation
---A financial, debt and economic crisis. Economic and social conditions in the Palestinian territories are deteriorating, despite the fact that the PA has already received more than $25 billion in foreign aid since its creation. Yet economic conditions now are worse than they were then. While most Palestinians are getting poorer and unemployment is rising, a small minority is getting richer and more influential. Of all the aid it has received, the PA has only allocated one percent to productive agricultural and industrial projects. In fact, agriculture and industry have both deteriorated, while the Palestinians have become more dependent on foreign imports, especially from Israel.
---A legal crisis, resulting from a general non-adherence to the basic law (the Palestinian constitution) in holding elections and suspending the Palestinian Legislative Council (the Palestinian parliament) as a result of the destructive rift. This led to the re-imposition of presidential rule in which all powers are vested in the President with no effective mechanism of accountability and oversight. The PLO is dormant, the PNC is under intensive care, and the PLC barred from operating. The result is one-man rule of the type Arab peoples are rising against.
The Palestinian political system turned into a mixed (presidential/parliamentary) system only when external and internal pressures forced the late Yasser Arafat to create the post of Prime Minister. The reason for that was to weaken Arafat and establish a new leadership that would be more receptive to U.S. and Israeli conditions. The solution does not lie in Fateh leading the Palestinian government by itself, nor in the president forming a government, nor in asking Hamdallah to have another go, or indeed in forming a government of national unity before first reaching agreement on the precise foundations on which, such a government is to be built.
A fundamental solution must be found that can reverse the current situation that is characterized by division and the absence of a common program and a unified leadership. New strategies capable of realizing national goals must be put into action now; it is futile to wait for the results of the Arab Spring or for John Kerry's efforts to bear fruit. All Palestinians must realize that resuming peace talks now would be fruitless and a waste of time, what with Israel's intransigence and the Palestinians lacking in any means of meaningful pressure. Meanwhile, Israel continues to create facts on the ground that would make its version of peace the only one available.
This being the case, the only route to salvation as far as the Palestinians are concerned lies in abandoning the U.S.-sponsored bilateral peace talks and ending the role of the so-called International Quartet. A new political course must be charted that is based on a new political program that embodies common goals. These goals must be founded on the concept of rights rather than statehood. Priority must be given to ending the split, without waiting for a green light from Israel, America, or elsewhere.
The Palestinians must also double their efforts to win international backing for their cause, and to strengthen steadfastness in the occupied territories. The Arab and human dimensions of the Palestinian cause must be reinvigorated, and all forms of legitimate resistance organized.
The Palestinians must now make a serious effort to isolate, sanction, and prosecute Israel for the crimes it has committed against the Palestinian people until it submits or collapses.