By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.
There are widespread literatures and concepts in the Palestinian political, media, scientific and cultural realms that promote visions and perceptions whose implementation seems to be an illusion that has no experimental or systematic scientific reading bases.
In this article, only three illusions will be presented to the honorable reader.
The first illusion is the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank (WB) and Gaza Strip (GS)
It is the illusion on the basis of which the Oslo Accords were signed and the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established. It is the slogan adopted by the Arab regimes over the past forty years, particularly since the initiative of the then Crown Prince Fahd ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz of Saudi Arabia 1982; that became the norm in international positions (the two-state solution). This illusion was built on the wrong premise that if the Palestinians recognized Israel and its “right” to exist on 77% of the historic land of Palestine, it will withdraw from the land occupied in 1967 (WB and GS), and allow the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, including East Jerusalem.
The fact is the peace process was designed and agreed upon in Oslo, without an Israeli firm commitment to the right of the Palestinian people to establish this independent state, without a clear deadline for the withdrawal from WB and GS, and without the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. It was agreed on without an Israeli recognition of the right of return of Palestinian refugees, or an Israeli commitment to withdraw from East Jerusalem, not even a commitment to stop settlement building and the Judaization programs in the territories occupied in 1967.
Actually, over the past 27 years, Israel has managed the peace process and used it as a cover for further Judaization and settlement expansion, especially in Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. It has made the PA a functional entity that serves its purposes and suppresses resistance forces, and has used the peace process to legitimize itself on the Arab, Islamic and international levels and to implement it normalization plans in the region, so that it would be able to close the Palestinian dossier according to its standards and requirements.
The mentality that runs Israel according to the Zionist ideology still does not believe in an independent Palestinian state, west of the Jordan River. The discourse of most Israeli parties do not go beyond the idea of establishing a demilitarized Palestinian entity under Israeli hegemony, where it would manage the people, while the Israelis live in a “clean colonialism” that dominates the land, what is above it and what is below it, and its entrances and exits.
This Zionist vision will not be changed by the wishful thinking of Palestinian, Arab, Islamic or international “good behavior,” rather, (as historic experience has shown) by armed resistance that would make Israel lose its pillars of security, economy and stability and force it to withdraw under the clatter of arms.
The second illusion is combining the PA, with its current structure, and the armed resistance under occupation
Israel will not allow the establishment of a Palestinian authority that espouses armed resistance or provides it with a cover, even if this resistance expresses the will of the Palestinian people and wins a landslide victory in legislative and presidential elections.
The Israeli aggressive occupation is fighting you over the land and its identity, the people and their identity. It has a systematic and gradual strategic program for controlling and changing. It is neither a charity, nor “a democracy that respects human rights,” especially when it comes to the land of Palestine and the Palestinian people. The Israeli occupation has adapted the functional structure of the PA to serve these goals. It certainly won’t let you mobilize, take advantage of institutional and material capabilities and adopt resistance action to get rid of it.
Therefore, when Hamas won the 2006 elections and formed its government, Israel launched military campaigns, carried out assassinations, and committed the massacre of the Shati’ Refugee Camp, either to subjugate it or force it to respond militarily. Hamas responded in June 2006 militarily with Operation Dissipating Illusion (dubbed by Israel Operation Summer Rains), proving that it won’t join the peace process. In return, Israel launched massive military and arrest campaigns that paralyzed Hamas’s government in WB as well as the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC). After what was experienced in the past 16 years, there is no prospect for a government that embraces armed resistance to lead the government in WB. As for why Hamas has succeeded in GS, it is due to the complete Israeli withdrawal from the Strip, besieging it only from the outside, with the resistance forces developing their capabilities to defend the Strip against Israeli aggression.
There is still one issue that can be discussed, the possibility of redefining and adapting the PA and its institutional structures in WB, in line with an environment of a people facing an occupation.
These structures must be formed in a way that would solidify the Palestinian steadfastness under occupation, get rid of Israeli economic, political, social, educational and cultural hegemony/ dominance, and eliminate security cooperation and coordination. The contact with Israel must only be linked to necessities and the demands of living requirements. At this point, this authority would focus on serving the Palestinian people, while being “officially” neutral to the resistance, in case it can’t adopt it or provide it with a cover. Meanwhile, the Palestinians would turn any potential loss of any of their institutions into more costs and burdens on Israel. In the sense that institutional work under occupation is a kind of struggle (Educational, economic, cultural, health…), where any loss should quicken the pace of the struggle and reveal the ugly face of occupation.
A for Hamas and the resistance forces, if they want to enter the legislative elections as a compulsory crossing towards Palestinian legitimacy (Although this idea is excluded now, and it is closer to a hypothetical case, especially after ‘Abbas had disrupted the elections), they clearly cannot bet on a government run by the resistance and at the same time designed to serve the occupation. Therefore, redefining the authority and adapting it nationally is also a mandatory path. However, such a change for the Israelis would make the authority lose the justification for its existence, hence will use all possible tools to subdue it. That is, if we assume, for the sake of argument, that the resistance will control the authority directly in WB, or via those who represent their platform, it will necessarily turn it into a state of conflict with the occupation and its allies who control the land, the infrastructure, the Authority’s financial resources, the exports and the imports, the movement of individuals, transportation, and the institutions. Thus, either the authority adapts to the resistance program, or the resistance adapts (albeit to one degree or another) to the demands of the occupation; or the authority or a number of its institutions would collapse or get disrupted.
The third illusion is having an independent decision-making under the occupation
Perhaps the mere idea of discussing this notion was unlikely before the Oslo Accords, and the thought of convening a Palestinian National Council (PNC) or a Palestinian Central Council (PCC) or the meeting of the Executive Committee under occupation was more like a stupid and rude joke. Throughout the 1967–1993 period, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) did not only hold its PNC meetings abroad, rather, it would exclude the Palestinians inside (WB, GS and the 1948 territories) from the quorum. In the late 1970s, the PLO included about one hundred members from inside Palestine in the PNC membership. They were increased later to 180, and their names remained undisclosed fearing for their safety, and they were not counted in the quorum so that the occupation would not prevent a number of its members from attending and disrupt the PNC work.
The Fatah movement has always boasted and emphasized the independence of Palestinian decision-making; however, political practice after the Oslo Accords has disrupted the PLO and its institutions. When the PLO leadership (Fatah leadership) wanted to hold meetings of the representative institutions of the PLO, it held them under the occupation. Consequently, the occupation has become the one who gives permission (albeit implicitly) to hold the meetings of the PNC, PCC or the Executive Committee… Whenever it wants, it can thwart and disrupt these meetings, arrest and deport whomever it wants from the members, or prevent their entry or exit. Moreover, the Palestinians abroad were seriously marginalized (They are more than half of the Palestinian people). In addition, and in the absence of the Palestinian resistance factions, specifically Hamas and Islamic Jihad, whose one of their reasons was holding the meetings under occupation, it was not possible to carry out real institutional reform in the PLO.
The Palestinian decision will be free and independent, only if the occupation has no effect on its inputs and outputs, and its meetings and the member participation. Therefore, meetings related to decision-making must be held outside the occupied territories, otherwise it is kind of quibbling and self-deception; or a surrender to the will of the occupation.
Until we meet againde with other “illusions”!!