الرئيسية » هاني المصري »   12 آذار 2015

| | |
هاني المصري



"The PCC’s resolutions were good, and the factions welcomed them, so much so that Hamas, which boycotted the council’s meetings, welcomed many of its resolutions," writes Hani al-Masri in the leading Palestinian daily al-Ayyam.

But such a welcome seemed absent at the popular level. Was this because the people have sensed the [negative] Israeli and American, and perhaps European, reaction to these resolutions, such as those ending the security coordination, burdening the occupation with the responsibility for its occupation, reconsidering the relationship with the occupation, ending the Paris economic agreement, revitalizing the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), and heading towards elections? 

Perhaps; but this explanation remains unconvincing because the various factions and the people have been forcefully demanding such steps for a long time. So what lies behind this popular disinterest? To answer this question, we have to bear in mind that the people have long been 'absented' from participation in determining their own fate, and that the gap that separates them from the leadership is huge and continuously growing wider.

Moreover, many similar resolutions have been taken at previous PLO Executive Committee meetings such as those adopted last July 23rd [2014], and those adopted by the PCC at its previous meeting in April 2014 which have remained mere ink on paper and have not been implemented, or have been pursued in a manner that has denuded them of any content. In fact, the people have failed to detect any difference between the situation before and after these resolutions were adopted.
For example, the Palestinian leadership defied Israel and the U.S. by securing observer membership status in the UN. But ever since this historic decision, it has continued to behave as it did before. The only exception was a draft resolution proposed to the UN Security Council whose most prominent feature was that its ceiling was lower than the Palestinian national program and international legitimacy's resolutions, confining itself to specifying a final deadline for ending the occupation.
The retreat from the substance of Palestinian national positions has paved the way for many of the concessions made by the Palestinian negotiators throughout the negotiations’ long and futile march. These include a willingness to accept ‘agreed-upon’ solutions for the refugee issue, acceptance of the principle of 'land-swaps', and other such issues there is no room to mention in this article.
The reason for the PA's confusion stems from the fact that there is no political will to change course, and that the preparations that precede such resolutions do not point to any new intention to implement them. This is despite the fact that the likely consequences of these resolutions call for the provision of alternatives to them in advance. 
These should include answers to such questions: What shape will the future confrontation assume? What are the appropriate forms of struggle? What are the immediate, medium, and long-term aims? Who will provide the employees with salaries, especially if Israel continues to freeze the transfer of Palestinian tax revenues, and if the U.S. administration decides to end its aid?
Moreover, if the PA were to collapse as a result, what would replace it? After all, if the leadership has decided to rid itself of its Oslo obligations, it has to develop alternatives and adopt strategies that would enable it to stand its ground in the confrontation. Foremost among them is that of giving priority to ending the inter-Palestinian [Fateh/Hamas] split and regaining Palestinian unity, rebuilding and revitalizing the PLO and adding the various shades of the Palestinian spectrum to it, and regaining the people's lost trust in it. This is necessary if the PLO is to act as the all-inclusive framework and genuine legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and the alternative to the PA should the latter collapse.
None of these measures have been adopted. Instead, the matter has been addressed in a manner that lacks seriousness, with the president expressing his readiness to issue an edict to hold elections if Hamas were to agree.  But what elections is the president speaking of? Is it for an authority in charge of self-rule, or of elections for a Palestinian state? And on the basis of what electoral law? And does he have, or can he obtain, American, Israeli, European, and international acceptance for holding them, regardless of the outcome of the Israeli elections and the existence or lack thereof of a political process with a political content?
Will such elections be a prelude to reviving the so-called 'peace process,' or will they inaugurate a new policy, and act as the spearhead in the battle to regain sovereignty and achieve independence?  Or will they be the last arrow in the quiver of the so-called 'two-state solution', thus preparing for the 'one-state' option on the basis of a struggle against a settlement/colonial occupation in order to defeat and dismantle it as the precondition for establishing such a state?
Meanwhile waiting seems to be the main game in town. At best, the PCC's message represents an attempt to exert pressure on Israel to transfer the tax returns it collects on the PA's behalf because, if it continues to withhold these returns, it will place the leadership and the president in a difficult position and may expose the PA to collapse. The president's sole policy is one of waiting and reacting in a selective, unsystematic, and incoherent manner to Israeli practices, even though many Palestinian moves are on the right track. But they are insufficient to bring about the required historical transformation.
The waiting this time round will be for the results of the [March 17th] Israeli elections in the hope that Netanyahu and his ruling coalition would fall and be replaced by a new coalition that is ready to negotiate and recognize the presence of a Palestinian side. But we have to bear in mind that the [Labor Party-led] Zionist Camp's success will not change the political map. This is because this Camp is committed to Israel’s preconditions for any solution: No to a return to the June 1967 borders; Jerusalem as Israel's eternal capital; no return for the refugees; Israel should continue to control the borders, crossing points, ports and airports, the Jordan Valley, and the strategic and security areas; the Israelis should have the right to intervene and pursue those it deems to be a threat; and the Palestinian state should be disarmed.
The problem will emerge more clearly if the so-called 'left' and 'center' win the Israeli elections. This is because the weak and divided Palestinian side is in no position to make use of the existing contradictions in Israel; it is more likely to fall victim to these contradictions again, instead.
The Israeli elections may produce a unity government, because the Zionist parties will not want to rule in a coalition that relies on Arab votes. There are rising expectations that the Joint Arab List will come in third place, with a number of seats that allows its head to lead the opposition. That would force the next Israeli prime minister to consult with him over the fateful issues, which would harm the ‘Jewish essence’ of the state; an issue on which there is an almost total consensus in Israel. That, in turn, may pave the way before a [Jewish-only] national unity government and changing the law that permits an Arab to head the opposition.
There are numerous scattered indications that we are drawing close to a turning point. In fact, we may have reached that point for some time now, while the leadership refuses to recognize it and seeks to return to the paradise of bilateral negotiations in the hope of establishing the promised Palestinian state.
The current phase is not that of imposing a patriotic solution; it is a phase of steadfastness and of consolidating the factors that ensure the Palestinian people's continuous presence on their homeland's soil and allows them to regain their unity, institutions, and national project. It is a phase in which the major concessions that have been made should be retracted –such as recognizing Israel's right to exist; the abandonment of the Palestinian right to resist, which also retroactively denies that right; security coordination; economic subordination; unilaterally abiding by agreements; the persistence of a self-rule regime, and so on.
"Once that happens and the Arab, regional, and international conditions change, it will prove possible to move forward towards achieving the patriotic solution," concludes Masri.