"The PLO's Central Council is scheduled to hold its 27th session (today) Wednesday and Thursday," writes Hani al-Masri in the leading Palestinian daily al-Ayyam.Had the Council fulfilled its proper role as the mediating body between the PLO Executive Committee and the Palestine National Council (PNC), this should have been the 67th or 70th or 80th session. But the ramifications of the  Oslo Accords called for absenting the Central Council as part of a process that marginalized the entire PLO, whose role largely retreated in favor of the PA, instead of the PA being one of the PLO's tools [as legally prescribed].The fact that the negotiations have reached a dead end, that Hamas won the majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and that no presidential or legislative elections have been held for various Palestinian, Israeli and other reasons [since 2005/06] have together pumped some life into the PLO's role, specifically into its Central Council which ratified the ill-fated Oslo Accords and have extended the PA president and PLC's terms, which expired in 2009 and 2010 respectively.Despite all the above, convening the Central Council is beneficial, since it indicates that the PLO is still alive as the all-inclusive framework, national entity, and the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. There is, after all, no national way out of the comprehensive predicament facing the Palestinian cause and all that threatens it with dire consequences without rebuilding the national movement, national representation, and the all-inclusive national institution that the PLO represents.- The first remark regarding this session, which is supposed to be of historic proportions, is that Hamas and Islamic Jihad will not take part, or will only do so symbolically. It is true that an invitation has been issued to some members of the two organizations' in their capacity as members of the PLC or other such capacities; but this is more by way of 'avoiding blame' and more an indication of persistent [PA presidential] domination and unilateralism. For Hamas and Islamic Jihad are invited to take part in the meeting without actually taking part in preparing for it. But a good meeting that can come up with resolutions that would meet the current challenges and threats requires preparations that include all shades of the political spectrum.But it is not only Hamas and Islamic Jihad that are absent from such participation; other PLO factions are absent as well. In fact, Fateh itself has been effectively absented because the style of government and the manner in which decisions are taken have placed all powers and authorities in the president's hands.Some may argue that inviting Hamas and Islamic Jihad to join the PLO would anger Israel, the U.S., and an important Arab axis of which Egypt is a member, and which is intensely hostile to Hamas because the latter is an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood. Others may argue that the PLO Executive Committee, like all of the PLO's other institutions, has grown old and derelict and that it would be improper to place the Palestinians’ fate in its hands.If so, then the natural and acceptable alternative would be for the Central Council meetings to be preceded by an all-inclusive national dialogue that determines where we stand, where we wish to go, and how to do so. This dialogue should also include a comprehensive agreement that determines what is needed from Fateh, Hamas, and all other factions to achieve real national unity based on common grounds and a full partnership that does not cancel out pluralism and that gives priority to the national interest rather than any axis or group, and without intervening in domestic Arab affairs in return for the Arabs' not intervening in domestic Palestinian affairs.- The second remark is that the agenda distributed to the Central Council members consists of a long list of issues without any mechanism for determining their order of importance. This threatens to turn the Council's meetings into a carnival whose sole task is to bestow legitimacy upon resolutions that have already been taken by the political leadership, thus following the same path that has been pursued for over two decades even though it has led us to the catastrophe that we now found ourselves in.By this I do not mean the path taken by the leadership alone; the other strategies, including that of armed resistance, have also reached a dead end, even though resistance is both our right and a necessity, provided it falls within an overall strategy and is subject to the national interest.What is needed in this regard is to adopt the formulation of a comprehensive vision and a new approach that is fundamentally different from that pursued since the signing of the Oslo Accords at least and up till now as the main item on the Central Council meetings' agenda.There is no alternative to cutting the umbilical cord that consistently provides the vital elixir for unbalanced negotiations, even though all the facts have proven that Israel itself– and not just one Israeli party or another– is not ready to voluntarily agree to any resolution that secures the basic minimum of Palestinian rights. These are the rights of return, self-determination, and establishing an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the territories occupied in 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital, and with full equality with the Jews for the Palestinians living in the territories occupied in 1948, both individually and as a nation.Based on the above, what is required is a sustainable struggle; one that assumes various forms and relies on national unity based on an accord democracy and real partnership. This struggle should aim to change the balance of power and collect Palestinian, Arab, regional, and international cards by providing the elements needed to consolidate the Palestinians' steadfastness on the land, as well as resorting to resistance, boycott, the deployment justice and moral superiority of the Palestinian cause, and all the Arab, Islamic, regional, and international factors, especially the international solidarity movement, international law, and the UN resolutions that still uphold the basic minimum of Palestinian rights.It is of no use for the Palestinian regime, backed by the official Arab order, to continue to pin its hopes on heading to the UN Security Council once again as if the American veto has disappeared from its path, or to continue to look to the coming Israeli elections in the hope that they may produce a new Israeli government. All that can be gleaned from this is a resumption of negotiations on the same old bases with minor adjustments, the most important of which is the involvement of Arab and international parties in the talks. These parties would only pressure the Palestinian side and force it to make the concessions required for paving the road before the formation of an Arab/Israeli/American/
international coalition against terrorism and extremism, and against Iran."Such a coalition will become urgent, especially if the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the six major powers fail to reach an agreement, or if agreement is reached on partitioning the region after dividing it up once again into areas of influence between the regional powers--with Israel at their forefront- and great powers, and in the absence of an Arab project--even of the sort that existed during the days of the dead and buried years of Arab 'solidarity' [in the 1970s]," concludes Masri.