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By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.

A notable aspect of the Fatah statement, issued on 15/3/2024, and distributed by the Palestinian News Agency (WAFA), is its accusation that Hamas is “disconnected from reality”!!

Having closely followed Fatah’s statements for decades, owing to his specialization and interests, the author of these lines finds this particular statement to be the epitome of “detachment from reality.” It is replete with antiquated assertions and lacks the gravitas expected of a prominent movement with a storied history of struggle, one that champions Palestinian “legitimacy”!!

Fatah’s statement stemmed from Hamas’s opposition to Mahmud ‘Abbas’ appointment of Mohammad Mustafa as the Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister, tasking him with forming a government on 14/3/2024. Notably, Hamas wasn’t alone in objecting. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the second-largest faction in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the National Initiative jointly issued a statement, which, marked by its calm and objective tone, underscored the seriousness of the situation, the need to confront aggression and occupation crimes, and the imperative of national consensus. It criticized the unilateral approach of the PA, PLO and the Fatah leadership, which has worsened the division during this critical juncture, particularly by replacing someone from the same political and party sphere.

On the other hand, “disconnection from reality” emerged as a notable characteristic of the letter through which ‘Abbas (Head of Fatah, PLO and the PA) designated Mohammad Mustafa as prime minister, inciting a response from various Palestinian factions.

This article delves into the contents of the appointment letter and the subsequent Fatah statement:

A Mandate Ignoring Operation al-Aqsa Flood:

The most glaring oversight in the mandate was the failure to acknowledge the significance of Operation al-Aqsa Flood and the seismic impact it had on Israel, marking the first such event in its 75-year history. This event shattered the foundation of its security doctrine. Furthermore, the mandate disregarded the widespread Palestinian (as well as Arab and Muslim) support for this operation. Instead, it narrowly focused on the effects of Israeli aggression on Gaza Strip (GS), overlooking the remarkable valor exhibited by the resistance in confronting this aggression and the unparalleled losses inflicted upon Israel, since its establishment. While the mandate and statement address relief efforts, provision of necessities and reconstruction, which are undoubtedly important, they fail to recognize the remarkable displays of heroism, resistance, steadfastness and sacrifices made by the Palestinian people!!

A Mandate Addressing Israeli-US Concerns:

The glaring detachment from reality is starkly apparent in the conventional, unvarying issuance of the letter of assignment under the guise of the “State of Palestine,” as though governance were conducted in Switzerland rather than in a land under occupation, with a people enduring the most brutal, relentless and inhumane onslaughts against the Palestinian people, encompassing extermination, deprivation and devastation. At the very least, as expected of any respectable political system, it would have necessitated the establishment of a national unity government or an emergency government to consolidate efforts and resources in response to the aggression and demands of the situation.

The Israelis hastily established an emergency government and war council, despite its significant resources and a broad global coalition behind it. Meanwhile, the PA leadership (the PLO and Fatah leadership) disregarded all attempts at Palestinian unity. Instead, it opted to form a new government aligned with Israeli, US and Western interests, to be ready not to stand with the resistance against the aggression, but to take over GS and replace the resistance after “crushing Hamas” according to the Israeli-US plan. They appointed an individual whose primary qualification seemed to be approval from adversaries and dissenters, with little regard for the will of the Palestinian people or the notion of an “independent Palestinian national decision”!!… Such a profound detachment from reality begs the question: is there anything more grievous?

Matters escalated to the extent that, as reported by Quds Press on 21/3/2024, a European committee of embassy personnel in Ramallah was conducting interviews with the ministers proposed by Mohammad Mustafa for his government, assessing their qualifications and suitability for the “roles” by Western standards. Notably, attending these interviews was at Mustafa’s own request!! This development is further corroborated by a report from Quds Press on the same day, revealing that a six-member security committee, comprising representatives from the US, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE and the PA, is scrutinizing Mustafa’s ministerial nominations. One of the pivotal conditions for acceptance is that candidates must not have a history of involvement in conflicts or prior incarceration in Israeli prisons!!

The observer feels nauseated because the Fatah statement alleges Hamas’s reliance on “foreign agendas”!! and employs inappropriate language, insinuating whether Hamas seeks allegiance to Iran by asking, “to appoint a prime minister from Iran or for Tehran to appoint him for us”?! Fatah knows better than anyone else that Hamas’s decisions are autonomous, acknowledged even by Iranians themselves, and that meeting within the resistance framework implies collaboration, not subservience. The authors of the Fatah statement should have realized that “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”!!

A Governmental Performance that Marginalizes Palestinian Stakeholders:

The disconnect from reality is starkly evident in the letter of assignment, which tasks Mohammad Mustafa with leading, organizing and coordinating relief efforts in GS, overseeing the reconstruction efforts, and devising plans to unify institutions between the northern and southern governorates into a single cohesive entity. The directive utterly disregards the ground realities in Gaza. This is not akin to responding to a natural disaster in a region within a country, as seen in Japan or Turkey, where aftermaths necessitate attention; rather, it’s about confronting a brutal and devastating occupation and aggression seeking to reshape Gaza’s political landscape in line with Zionist agendas. Amidst this, there exists a resolute resistance around which the masses rally, as reflected in opinion polls conducted by the Palestinian Center for Political and Survey Research in Ramallah. The findings from December 2023 and March 2024 anticipate a victory for Hamas and project its control over the Strip post-war, with popular majorities of nearly two-thirds. These are the same surveys that allocate no more than 11% favorability to ‘Abbas’s PA control of Gaza. Therefore, it is those who disregard the resistance and Hamas, and neglect any pre-existing national consensus with the grassroots and effective forces on the ground, who are detached from reality. They do so in the anticipation that Israel and the US will facilitate a conducive environment for them to supplant the resistance.

A “Sloganized” Partnership:

The mandate espouses the ideals of fostering a culture of partnership, dialogue, transparency, inclusiveness and participation in decision-making, while underscoring the importance of preparations for presidential and legislative elections. However, aside from this idealistic “romantic” rhetoric, the appointment of Mohammad Mustafa and the mandate itself contradict the essence of partnership. Meanwhile, the practices of the PA and Fatah leadership have persistently monopolized the PA, PLO and their institutions for decades. They have evaded and nullified any genuinely representative electoral processes, excluded influential Palestinian factions from decision-making, abolished the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC), suppressed freedoms in the West Bank (WB), and persecuted the resistance and its symbols.

The inconsistency and detachment from reality become glaringly evident in the mandate’s call to extend full support to the judicial system and enable it to fulfill its role. This call comes from ‘Abbas, who has orchestrated a judicial “massacre.” He unilaterally established a constitutional court, instrumentalizing it to disrupt the PLC and tighten his control over the Supreme Judicial Council. Furthermore, he has exploited the judiciary to suppress dissenting voices and stifle opposition from syndicates and political adversaries.

The contradiction and disconnect from reality are also apparent in the mandate’s discussion of instituting reforms to achieve a transparent governance system. For over the past 17 years, ‘Abbas has instead dismantled institutional frameworks, consolidated control over legislative and judicial authorities, entrenched individual rule, issued over 400 laws and presidential decrees, and disregarded all appeals for reform, political collaboration and the reconstruction of PLO.

Betting on a Dead Horse:

The detachment from reality is glaring in the Fatah leadership’s persistent adherence, spanning over 30 years, to the futile and decaying peace process, which Israel has effectively disregarded, treating it as mere “toilet paper” in its ongoing efforts to Judaize the land and holy sites. This detachment is further evident in the PA’s unwavering commitment to security coordination with Israel, despite its perpetration of brutality, destruction and massacres against our people. The insistence on such coordination stands in direct violation of the Palestinian consensus opposing it and disregards decisions made by the Palestinian National Council and Central Council to cease such cooperation.

Compass Crisis:

The crisis of identity, “compass” and political stance emerges from the accusation leveled by the Fatah statement writers against Hamas for the catastrophe engulfing the Palestinian people, particularly in GS. Their language fails to distinguish, even amidst conflict, between the Israeli brutality and the heroism of the resistance!! According to opinion polls conducted among Palestinians in WB and GS, 84% attribute Gaza’s suffering to Israel and the US, with only 7% blaming Hamas, despite five months of massacres and destruction. In other words, Fatah’s stance diverges from the overwhelming Palestinian consensus, opting instead for a narrative that appeases Israel and its allies. Conversely, a significant majority, 71%, still support Hamas’s decision to initiate Operation al-Aqsa Flood, even though 78% of those surveyed in GS reported that at least one member of their family had been killed or injured. Furthermore, a majority of 75% believe that the October 7 attack revitalized international interest in the Palestine issue and enhanced prospects for Palestinian state recognition—a feat that ‘Abbas and his PA have failed to achieve over thirty years.

Consulting the Security Coordination Department:

The Fatah statement veers away from realism when it questions why Hamas did not consult the Ramallah leadership or Fatah regarding Operation al-Aqsa Flood!! As though this significant strategic process requires consultations akin to selecting a bride or purchasing real estate!! Fatah should understand better than anyone else that the success of such military endeavors hinges on utmost secrecy. In fact, even senior Hamas leaders were unaware of these operations. Moreover, it would be absurd to consult those who engage in daily security coordination with Israel and actively pursue the resistance. What sort of consultation does the statement expect with the leadership of an authority that has consistently ignored institutional reform, national partnership and the need of putting the Palestinian political house in order? Not to mention the failure to address whether Fatah consulted the Palestinian people and its active factions regarding the Oslo Accords disaster, where more than three-quarters of Palestine were conceded to Israel against their will… and other grievances.

Where Lies the Will of the Palestinian People?

Finally, the persistence in disregarding and disconnecting from reality becomes apparent in the insistence on retaining power, despite the overwhelming support of the Palestinian people for the resistance and its program. This is evident as 84% of Palestinians in WB and GS call for ‘Abbas’s resignation, 65% perceive the PA as a burden on the Palestinian people, and 58% even advocate for the dissolution of the PA itself. In essence, ‘Abbas and his PA reside inhabit one world, while the Palestinian people live in another entirely.

Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 26/3/2024

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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