By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.
It seems that the Palestinian “reconciliation attack” and “Palestinian national unity” efforts, led by the resistance forces, have ended in frustration and disappointing results, even before reaching any major event, such as the legislative elections, or reforming the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and rebuilding its legislative and executive institutions. For the Palestinian Authority (PA) resumption of security and civil coordination, and also the implementation of the agreements with Israel, have highly motivated the resistance away from reconciliation.
In political action, good intentions are not enough, and also thought and performance based on wishful thinking are of no use. Where national reconciliation and partnership were concerned, the PLO’s and the PA’s (Fatah leadership) behavior with the Palestinian factions, over the past years— especially with the heavyweight ones, specifically Hamas—was a tactical one. Fatah leadership has usually resorted to reconciliatory negotiations or entering into some of its practical aspects either when:
– Facing major challenges that demand its appearance as the representative of all the Palestinian people;
– Being exposed to great pressures, so it turns to “national unity” to gain strength.
– Or when the resistance accomplishes major achievements in its operations and wars and takes the lead in the Palestinian scene, this leadership rushes to ride the wave and take its share of the victory, so as to save itself from embarrassment.
For over more than 13 years of schism, the PA (Fatah) leadership was more preoccupied with how to clampdown on Hamas, strip its powers, marginalize its role, and put it under control, than with programs of partnership and national unity, based on parity and the supreme interests of the Palestinian people. Consequently, it did not hesitate to suspend the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) for 13 years, monopolize the presidency of authorities and legislation, and ignore the Basic Law that grants the caretaker government the authority, after the National Unity Government was dissolved. The good intentions of Hamas were not enough when it abdicated the premiership in the 2012 Doha Agreement, nor when the caretaker government was dissolved in the 2014 al-Shati’ Agreement, or when it prepared to hand over the Gaza Strip (GS) in the 2017 Cairo Agreement, or when it did not stipulate the return of the PLC to work, in the recent reconciliation negotiations, and turned a blind eye to the full proportional elections, despite the fact that the 2011 reconciliation agreement provides for a proportional ratio of only 75%.
Each time, the PA (Fatah) leadership would put any gains in its pocket, it takes them for granted, and then ask for more; concurrently, it would continue its acquisition of the PA presidency, the formation of its government, and complete control of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), the Palestinian Central Council (PCC), and the Executive Committee of the PLO. As if everyone who wants to work for Palestine must work under its wing, otherwise he has no place in the Palestinian political system.
Experience has shown that talking about a “strategic partnership” of the resistance forces with the current Fatah leadership is nothing but wishful thinking. Unless a political program based on preserving the fundamentals is reached first, an exit from the Oslo Accords and their requirements is implemented, and unless the PLO legislative and executive frameworks are opened to a real and serious Palestinian partnership that reflects the weights of the Palestinian forces, and includes the Palestinians inside the country and abroad (with its competencies and symbols), talking about such a partnership is just “futile” and would be a lack of respect for our Palestinian people’s minds.
The resistance forces must realize that the PA (Fatah) leadership is still with the peace process, betting on international “legitimacy” and the two-state solution, and that ‘Abbas does not believe in armed resistance. They must realize also that the mere victory of Biden in the US elections has shown how “light” this PA is, the extent of its underestimation of the resistance forces, and the extent of tactical handling with them.
The above does not mean that we are against national unity or reconciliation, rather, we are against it being used as a “scarecrow,” or a tool to fondle the dreams of the masses, or a way to pass the time, or to send messages to friends and opponents.
It is clear, at this stage, that the PA leadership is not ready to leave the “devious” negotiations and “illusive” peace settlement camp, get rid of the domination mentality, and have a real and serious partnership in the PLO legislative and executive institutions.
Therefore, if there is a chance to deal with the PA (Fatah) leadership, it should start with clearly defining the common grounds, cooperation on them, and then gradually expanding them. For example, the cooperation to unify the Palestinian position against the “deal of the century” or its consequences after Trump’s concession of the presidency, the Israeli annexation plans of parts of the West Bank (WB), and the normalization of some Arab countries with Israel.
Programs may be enacted to build mutual confidence, which would serve our people and our issue. These would include respecting freedoms and honoring human rights in WB and GS; cessation of political detention; activating professional and student syndicates and unions at home and abroad; and cooperation in protecting refugees and their rights in Lebanon, etc.
As for the main entitlements, the PLC, PNC and the PA presidency elections, and the rebuilding of the PLO, they should be linked to a platform based on the Palestine fundamentals, the closure of the Oslo Accords file, and real and serious guarantees that they would not be part of maneuvers and tactics, rather part of a real genuine path that resets the compass towards the liberation of Palestine.
At the same time, the resistance forces can move in parallel, by establishing frameworks, alliances and national action fronts (and not wait for the PA leadership and Fatah) to preserve the fundamentals. They can develop all forms of resistance, mainly the armed one, activate the Palestinian popular and trade union institutions, develop the Palestinian action abroad, and build a widespread Palestinian public stance that would push the PA leadership and Fatah to comply with the Palestinian popular will and put the Palestinian political house in order, based on the effective assimilation of all Palestinians, according to a national liberation program.
Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 7/12/2020