الرئيسية » هاني المصري »   10 أيلول 2015

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هاني المصري
"The decision to postpone the PNC session provides a much needed opportunity to save the Palestinian cause from the untold dangers that threaten it," writes Hani al-Masri in the leading Palestinian daily al-Ayyam.
If the period before the next session is exploited properly, it will turn a new leaf in Palestinian history. This can be done by forming a preparatory committee, in which the various political factions’ heads, national figures and representatives of the various groupings take part, including a good proportion set aside to represent women and the youth. Alternatively, the [all-faction] Temporary Leadership Framework could act as preparatory committee after it is expanded to include new members so as to ensure a better representation of the entire political and social spectrum. This committee can then carry out an overall review and assessment of past Palestinian policies in order to derive the necessary lessons and morals and develop a united strategy that is able to achieve victory.
We can begin our discussion here by considering the reasons that led to the postponement. These can be summarized by noting that the initial hasty and confused decision to hold an extraordinary PNC session elicited a strong negative response from the various factions and constituents of the Palestinian national movement, and especially from within Fateh. This created a sort of rift in the national movement and almost fragmented the individual small factions each of whom is trying to secure a share of the cake by feverishly competing over PNC, PLO Executive Committee and Central Committee membership, with no concern for how to confront the challenges and dangers threatening the cause, the nation and the land. For the pursuit of individual personal interest rules the day, which has exposed the national movement and its factions’ shortcomings, as well as the base level to which it has descended.
The hasty decision’s greatest effect was on Fateh, since it is the largest faction and is at the height of its preparations for holding its 7th Congress. Everyone in Fateh viewed the invitation to hold the PNC session in this manner, especially after the leaks concerning who is being targeted to be removed from the Executive Committee and who is slated to replace them and what changes are being readied inside Fateh. 
In other words, convening the PNC seemed like a dress 'rehearsal' for what would happen in the Fateh 7th Congress amidst persistent and broad disagreements over membership, the number of delegates and who will choose them. This turned on all the red lights, varying motives and honest and dishonest competition, and led to the PNC’s postponement for fear that these disagreements –had they emerged within the Congress- would have led to a feverish competition between leading Fateh figures over the identity of who will represent the movement in the PNC and the PLO Executive Committee.
The decision by the PFLP [leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] to call for the postponement of the PNC and boycott it if it were otherwise convened, also played a significant part in reaching this outcome. The petition signed by over one thousand national figures from the various shades of the Palestinian political and social spectrum – including PNC members –played a role as well. This encouraged Fateh to act, and created an opportunity to form a majority position inside the PLO’s Central Committee and later its Executive Committee demanding a postponement of the PNC session.
As for the smaller factions that applauded convening an ordinary or extraordinary PNC session regardless of the quorum, they must now reconsider their position before they lose what popularity and credibility they may still retain.
To complete this picture, we should say that the invitation to hold the PNC session, accompanied by the resignation of the head of PLO Executive Committee [PA President Mahmoud Abbas]  – spreading the news that this resignation was final and that he [Abbas] has no desire to run for that post again – represented a maneuver that was closer to a gamble. It is as if the president's aim was to confront the Palestinians, Israel, the U.S. and the entire world with what the situation will be like if the moderate president and man of peace were to resign without knowing the identity of his successor or successors. This would have meant that the Palestinian situation would be taking a leap into the unknown, heading towards a security breakdown, anarchy, and the PA's collapse – an outcome that the president hoped would motivate the Palestinians to implement whatever he wants, and soften Washington and Tel Aviv's positions, thereby opening a window for resuming the negotiations in the hope that these would offer a chance for reaching a settlement that achieves Palestinian rights-- or at least some of them.
This may explain Sa'eb 'Ereikat's statement in which he denied that he was seeking to replace the president, and insisting that it is the [Israeli] occupation that will be the successor authority. There is much truth in this in fact, and it should not be dismissed out of hand. For the legitimacy of Palestinian institutions in the PLO and the PA has been eroded because of the failure to hold elections, the absence of renewal and reform, the ending of resistance, the failure of the old political program and the failure to adopt a new program, and the inter-Palestinian [Fateh/Hamas] split which continues and is deepening.
The PA no longer has much legitimacy and credibility, especially since it was established on the assumption that it would exist for a temporary phase on the way to ending the occupation and creating a Palestinian state. But it has ended up as a final arrangement and no more than a form of limited self-rule that serves the occupation and provides it with cover to continue implementing its colonial, settlement, racist schemes of aggression that render an Israeli solution the only possible alternative, blocking the way before any other settlement that secures any of the Palestinian rights.
The question now is this: What is the president's stance after the postponement of the PNC session? Does he view this as a case of virtue in recognizing one's errors, or just a temporary bending before the storm so as to permit taking in the direction he wishes to? 
Does he view the postponement as a concession to the political and popular majority, paving the way for preparations for a PNC session that would constitute a qualitative leap forward, not a consolidation of the split or a transformation of the PLO from an organization that represents the Palestinian people wherever they are to an organization that represents only part of the Palestinians – no matter how large? 
Or will he obstinately stick to his guns and proceed with the resignation to which many factors are leading him – most importantly, the fact that the so-called 'peace process' and the Oslo track have reached a dead end, and the catastrophe whose features are clear for all to see in the deepening occupation, the expansion of settlements, the severing of Palestinian areas from each other, the split, and the unprecedented marginalization of the Palestinian cause.
It is the president's right to resign, and it is his duty to make this an occasion for putting the Palestinian household in order and creating a mechanism for his successor or successors that would help the Palestinian ship to sail amidst the high waves and devastating storms, allowing it to reach the shore of safety.
Based on the above, it is now possible to prepare for convening a PNC session that is not just focused on replacing some figures with other more pliant figures. This should be a session in which all shades of the national spectrum take part, one that is properly prepared for and that abides by what the [2014 Fateh/Hamas] reconciliation agreement called for; namely, the 'formation of a new PNC that ensures the participation of all patriotic and Islamist forces, factions, and parties; of our people wherever they are present; and of all sectors, institutions, and figures via election based on the principle of proportional representation where possible and by accord where elections are impossible, in accordance with mechanisms adopted by the committee emerging from the March 2006 Cairo Agreement, preserving the PLO as the broad framework for all factions, a comprehensive national coalition, an all-inclusive framework and the supreme point of reference for the Palestinians everywhere, in the homeland and in the Diaspora.'
Holding the next PNC session offers the last opportunity to rebuild the national movement and Palestinian representation and renew the PLO's institutions with the participation of all shades of the political and social spectrum. This can be achieved by creating a mechanism for endorsing a new national covenant and a new political program that would renew the commitment to common denominators.
"An agreement must be reached on the bases for a genuine political partnership that ensures that everyone receives what rightfully belongs to them, and that restores the Palestinian cause's radiance and the PLO's representation of the Palestinian people wherever they may be," concludes Masri.