By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.
It seems that it is imperative for the Palestinians to wage a “struggle” against the current Palestinian leadership in order to be able to put the Palestinian political house in order and restore the vitality and effectiveness of the Palestinian representative and executive institutions. For this is a prerequisite for the activation of the points of strength in the liberation project. The intended struggle is neither a fight nor an internal war, but a series of serious measures that pressure this leadership to respect the will of the Palestinian people.
After more than fifty years of dominating the political institutions, it was hoped that the current leadership would respond to the Palestinian reconciliation and the Palestinian-agreed road plan and hold the three-stage elections (legislative, the PA presidency and the Palestinian National Council). However, on 29/4/2021, it suspended the elections and postponed them indefinitely. This has caused widespread Palestinian frustration and discontent with this leadership, who places the interest of one person or faction before the higher interests of the Palestinian people and prioritizes its own interests, even if this leads to the collapse, disruption and failure of the governmental institutions.
This struggle has become imperative since this leadership is no longer a struggle partner expressing the aspirations of the Palestinian people, but rather a dictatorship reflecting the misery and diseases of the backward Arab political environment. This struggle has become necessary, because this leadership has become helpless, flabby, and unable to mobilize the tremendous potentials of the Palestinian people. It is incapable of representing a national, Arab or Islamic project that would face the Zionist project and its global tyranny.
It is a necessary struggle, because this leadership has missed dozens of opportunities and wasted precious years of the Palestine issue, while refusing to move aside, hold any elections or make arrangements, unless they reproduce the failed tyrannical system it runs.
If the above is the first lesson inferred from Mahmud ‘Abbas and the Fatah leadership obstructing the elections, the second lesson is that there must be a transitional Palestinian leadership that would put the Palestinian political house in order and hold any electoral process. For this would ensure that the procedures are serious, fair, integrous and credible, and that they reflect the true will of the Palestinian people; particularly since the current leadership has lost any remaining “integrity and credibility” that are the basic conditions for any side supervising free and fair elections.
It is no longer acceptable or reasonable for any side, be it a person or a faction, to run the electoral process in such a manner that if the results are expected to be in its favor, the elections are held, otherwise they are cancelled or postponed. Thus, making elections depend on individual mood and personal standards. Notably, when the Fatah movement took over the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1968–1969, it came under a transitional leadership headed by Yahya Hammudah, after the resignation of the previous leadership headed by Ahmad al-Shuqairi.
The third lesson is that the Palestinian arena has become, more than ever, in need to form an expanded national front including forces, factions and figures who believe in the necessity of putting the Palestinian political house in order, restoring the vitality and effectiveness of the legislative and executive institutions that have waned under the current leadership. They should also believe in the peaceful transfer of power and respect the free will of the Palestinian people. This front should reflect a Palestinian popular consensus against an entrenched leadership, dominated by one person or faction and supported by the Arab and international environment, not because of its legitimacy, popularity, or patriotic performance, but rather because of its policies, rejected by most of the Palestinian people.
This front must actively ask the current leadership to abide by its commitments and respect the will of its people. It must prevent further evasion of rebuilding Palestinian representative institutions. For this is destructive to the national and liberation project, and its danger is almost tantamount to that of the occupation itself, since it contributes, directly and indirectly, to the perpetuation of occupation and the suffering and displacement of the Palestinian people, and to the confiscation of their land and holy sites.
Fourthly, making concessions to make the current leadership proceed with reforming the Palestinian political house has increased this leadership’s ambitions to exercise more control and exclusivity, impose its conditions and standards and marginalize its partners and opponents. Throughout the past years and up to the beginning of the electoral process, Hamas has given up the formation of the government and accepted not joining it. It has accepted the non-activation of the Palestinian Legislative Council, kept silent about its cancellation, waived the condition of election synchronization, accepted the non-activation of the temporary leadership framework, and left the electoral process subject to ‘Abbas’s promises and decrees. However, all of this did not prevent ‘Abbas’s leadership from seeking more concessions. It has even proceeded with the peace process, security coordination, the marginalization of its partners, weakening and corrupting the representative and executive Palestinian institutions (PLO and the Palestinian Authority), its control of putting the Palestinian political house in order and the election process. It continues to deal with the will of the Palestinian people as a tactical marginal issue.
The above has made it unacceptable to make further concessions to this leadership, as all previous concessions have only led to the loss of points of strength and the weakening of the strategic positioning, despite what might appear to be temporary tactical gains whose value rapidly diminishes. What is required now is for the current leadership to pay its dues and debts and fulfill its obligations and commitments toward its people… Palestine is on fire… there is no room for bargaining, tactics or “savviness.”
Based on the previous point, the fifth lesson indicates that merely taking moral stances or achieving tactical gains would not move history or shape the future. These positions have no value when events unfold, unless they come within an effective strategy that establishes facts on the ground and advances firmly and wisely in order to impose its reform and revival vision. One must be aware that some concessions made by Palestinian forces might lose their value when received by influential forces. Thus, if such concessions take place, they must be properly and systematically used to prove the credibility of the opposition and impose the popular will on the influential leadership.
The sixth lesson warns that the data indicates that there is a state of widespread popular and youth movement rejecting the status quo and aspiring for change. This was demonstrated through the huge demand for registration in the election lists and in many independent lists. This movement is a current which stands against the peace process and supports the resistance on many levels. It is a trend that will grow in the future, making it impossible for the leadership to ignore. It, alongside the opposition forces, will be able to impose the process of putting the Palestinian political house in order and the reactivation of the Palestinian national project.
Seventh, Arab and Islamic guarantees must be proportionally valued and placed within their normal size, within their political context, and within the special considerations of each country, as well as within the size of influence enjoyed by each state. These guarantees are useful and supportive, but one cannot bet on them or give them more value than they deserve. Remarkably, these guarantees disappeared when the Fatah leadership decided to postpone the elections, and even mere statements were not issued by the Arab countries after the postponement decision. It was clear that the postponement has converged with the interests of some Arab countries that are directly involved in the Palestine issue, and addressed their concern over the fragmentation of the Fatah movement, Hamas’s growing fortunes, and the winning of the resistance trend in the electoral rounds.
The eighth and final lesson indicates that the Palestinian factions participating in the leadership framework have a patriotic and moral duty. Several of these factions are no longer present on the Palestinian popular political map and no longer participate in the resistance action, and the current Palestinian leadership is still deceptively using them to pretend to be “democratic.” Therefore, they have the duty to step aside and give way to real Palestinian representation and stop offering feet of mud or wooden crutches to a deficient and distorted Palestinian legitimacy, whose survival and performance would be a false testimony and a falsification of the true will of the Palestinian people.
Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 20/5/2021
The opinions expressed in all the publications and studies are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of al-Zaytouna Centre.
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