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In describing the situation and its causes
By: Fahed Suleiman
June 27, 2017
 

1.- In describing the situation and its causes

1.1- The crisis of the Palestinian national movement is complex, it is a crisis of national action strategy that is officially adopted, and it is a crisis of the existing political system, with the reciprocal relationship between them.

The strategy that is adopted by the Palestinian official decision center, is still based on two tracks: Palestinian-Israeli bilateral negotiations on the one hand, and building institutions of the «State» on the other; and the two tracks have been unsettled for years, but even for nearly two decades.

The political system's representative status has been shaken and its effectiveness has reversed at the level of its uniting structures in the PLO particularly, and the Palestinian Authority concretely, and its components, including factions, political parties and movements, as well as the institutions of the popular movement that are organized by unions and others.

1.2- The bilateral negotiations have been stuck practically since their collapse in the Camp David talks (July 2000), at the end of the second term of President Clinton, concurrently with Ehud Barak the Israeli prime minister at that time.

After a failed attempt to save them in Taba talks (January 2001) following the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada (September 2000), the negotiations were completely stopped until they were resumed under an international umbrella (i.e. an initiatory only), in Annapolis (November 2007) in the last year of president George W. Bush's second term, and in Ehud Olmert's term as a prime minister of Israeli government.

However, these negotiations were discontinued before achieving anything in early (December 2008), before Israeli operation of «Cast Lead» on the Gaza Strip. Again, negotiations were renewed only in late 2009, at the beginning of the first term of president Obama, during Benjamin Netanyahu as Israeli PM, to stop in 2014 and they are still stopped so far.

1.3- The collapse of negotiations, which led to the failure of political process, is not only due to Israeli intransigence, which rejects practically any path that leads to grant the national rights of the people of Palestine, but also to the structure of the negotiating process itself which Involves (by force) the factors of its failure, as it lacks:

A) The linkage between the reference of international legitimacy resolutions and the objective of the negotiations;

B) The clear definition of time frame for negotiations;

C) An influential and fair international reference capable for controlling the negotiating process in the frame and target that have been designed for, this reference has been limited with the American role that is biased to Israel;

D) Mechanisms to prevent the creation of new facts that undermine the status and rights of one of the parties of the equation. In this case there are settlement and Judaization facts that worked on to exacerbate the imbalance in power, in favor of the Israeli side and undermined the negotiating position of the Palestinian side, and weakened it.

1.4- The failure of political process, is also due to the absence of a Palestinian national action strategy, which in turn contributes to a cumulative correction for the imbalances in power, whether by providing factors of internal cohesion of the Palestinian situation, or by persevering in defying the pressures that face the efforts to internationalize the national cause, through a priority of supporting national tributaries, that flow in stream of a long-standing strategy, that combines the popular resistance against occupation and settlement, the struggle of captive's movement, prioritizing the influx of refugees in parallel with the increasing action and influence of the mass movement in the 48 regions, and through a realistic and meaningful defensive strategy in the Gaza Strip. All this in the context of serious attempt to gradually disengage from terms of Oslo Accords and set free from its restrictions, especially from its basic sides: security dependence and economic dependency.

1.5- In this context, it is clear how this policy is unproductive, which is betting on the completion of building institutions of the powerful state, as an influential factor in the ongoing conflict. According to the frequent reports from United Nations to the World Bank, about the Palestinian Authority's ownership of ministries and departments, at the level of management of facilities of a "successful state", have not succeeded in removing obstacles (mainly Israeli) that block the progress of the independent state project.

With pointing to this, we can not fail to distinguish between the functional efficiency of the institutions of the Palestinian Authority and the specifications and content of the independent state administrations, which having them can not upgrade the Palestinian Authority, as long as it does not control its land, water, crossings, borders, economic cycles, etc.

2.- The crisis of Palestinian political system

2.1- The Palestinian political system is based on two uniting bodies: PLO, the sole and legitimate representative of Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority, i.e. the self-governing authority over the population in Palestinian Bank and Gaza Strip, which was produced by the Oslo Accords, and which the Central Council of PLO adopted, on behalf of the Organization, a decision to form it in 1994, which means - in theory - that the PLO is the supreme reference of PA.

2.2- Contrary to what this definition may suggest, the relationship of PA with the PLO is not governed by the rule of part to whole, for an obvious and well known reason: that the role of PLO, after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, has retracted and receded rapidly after transferring its main institutions to Palestinian Authority's influence: The National Liberation Army has been transferred to the National Security Forces; The Unified Security and other security services have been turned into the General Intelligence and Preventive Security Services, the National Fund has been practically moved to the Ministry of Finance; and the PLO Representations abroad (more than 100 representatives) have been moved to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the same has been applied to many other institutions include information, research, culture, social ... etc.

2.3- In this context, it should be noted that this extensive institutional shift problem, does not lie in its displacement into the Palestinian interior, but in its complete departure from the influence of PLO and the responsibility of its leading bodies. There are many examples of this - in addition to the above - and the most recent, is the Presidential Decree to transfer the responsibilities of the Department of Expatriate Palestinian Communities in Americas, Australia and Europe, one of the principal representing bodies and which are directly related to the Executive Committee of PLO, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Palestinian Authority, which has become the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates!

What is exacerbating all this, is the fact that the institutions of mass movement (popular and professional associations, etc.) have deteriorated in the Palestinian diaspora, which were playing a major role in mobilizing and unifying the energies of Palestinian people, from various sectors in the diaspora, for the national battle.

2.4- To clarify the retrograde direction of the role of PLO, we add the absence of political Islam movements from it, which leads to the shaking of the representative status of PLO, depending on the popular base of these movements, as well as their political influence - mainly - social services, and their role in resisting the occupation.
If the legal status of the PLO is still in place – if with difficulty - despite the passage of more than two decades since the last session of the Palestinian National Council (which is the general and supreme national conference of the Palestinian people and the entire national movement) the continuation of the imbalance in the representative quorum must lead - if it continues - to rattle the legitimate status of PLO, which is not complete in quorum, until the meeting of its legal status with its comprehensive representative status.

2.5- The Palestinian Authority, in turn, is suffering from a complex crisis: it is divided on itself institutionally and geographically, and it is in the hands of two rival ruling parties, which leads to deepen its bureaucratic characteristics and repressive practices, and strengthen its tendency to confiscate public freedoms and its tendency to suppress the mass movement, in addition to the use of methods of direct repression whenever necessary, although we distinguish - by degree only - between what the Authority adopts in Gaza and in Ramallah, where the first is more extravagant in using the iron fist to deal in general with the movement of community, whether it is a demand or a democratic affair.

2.6- One of the factors of the complex crisis that has been suffered by the Palestinian Authority, is that it is designed to work as a functional administrative entity, under the occupation, for a transitional period of five years (ending in 1999), which is the transitional period as stipulated in the Oslo Accords.

Therefore, it is not surprising, that this framework, that has been designed for a limited period of time, is narrowing and unable to meet the needs of the society (economic, etc.) for a longer period of time than two decades, in a circumstance, in which several factors have combined to exacerbate the crisis of the Palestinian political system, the most important is: the dominance of rentier, in the economy, as a source of spoils and clientele, in the distribution behind the walls of an occupation, whose grip has become more and more violent, due to the settlement in the Palestinian Bank, the spread of Judaization in Jerusalem and Hebron, and the tightening of siege on Gaza Strip, with escalating the Israeli aggression against it.

3.- The Palestinian political forces in the course of the crisis

3.1- Taking aside the negative effects of the international and regional developments on the Palestinian situation since the early 1990s until today, starting with the collapse of the socialist camp, the disintegration of Soviet Union, the repercussions of Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, and the outbreak of the phenomenon of terrorism worldwide after September 11, 2001, arriving to the series of Arab movements at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, which some of them have turned into civil wars, confrontations and regional wars.

If we put all this aside, with recognizing their great importance and their negative structural effects on our national march, we should define our own responsibility as a national movement in the current crisis and the crisis that is facing the Palestinian national project in general, and determine the role of the political forces and their responsibility for the emergence of this crisis, as a crisis of the national project and political system.

3.2- In the context of the foregoing, we should stop before the following:

A) The responsibility of the two largest and most influential parties: Fatah and Hamas, before and after their turning to two ruling parties.

B) The responsibility of the Palestinian left, which is a political, organizational and perhaps intellectual pluralistic left, as it is well known; however, it is possible to draw inclusive main lines that intensify its role in the production of the current crisis of national movement.

C) But before this and that, it is useful to shed light, or to recall the starting point of the current crisis and its root.

3.3- The root of the current crisis of the Palestinian national movement and national project, in general, lies in the political process under its unjust conditions that were set by the Oslo Accords, so, it has become a continuous process for more than a quarter of a century. This political process has led to the establishment and perpetuation of an autonomy for the population, which is open to a continued colonization of the land, with the abolition of the refugees' right of return, and the maintenance of the Israeli security control over the Palestinian territories, including the crossings and the borders.

3.4- From this point, the national crisis, which the Left failed to contain it, since the beginning has started, because it was unable to mobilize the necessary forces and alliances to change the conditions of the ongoing political process according to the rule: the outcome of the negotiations are determined to a large extent by the included conditions, and the most important of these conditions, is the halting of settlements and the adoption of a negotiating process at a single stage, as in the case of other Arab countries included in the negotiations, not in two stages, as imposed on the Palestinians.

It may be said in this context, how did Hamas make its way strongly in the national arena and impose a rival relationship on the Fatah movement, despite the failure of Hamas to prevent the Oslo process? The answer is within reach: Hamas, which lacked the political wisdom to manage the political battle, when it refrained from agreeing with other political forces that were meeting on the need to adhere to certain conditions to underpin the negotiating process and fortify it, and it compensated this by activating the factors of self-strength that are resulting from the combination of elements of organizational force and military influence with an extended external coalition depth, which the forces of the Palestinian left are lacking.

3.5- After the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the internal Palestinian relations have been transferred to new balances. So, after Fatah was the first among equals in the PLO, it has become a ruling party - albeit under occupation – that monopolizes the money, arms and the official political representation, as well as holding the key of some facilities of daily life. The same infection has been turned to Hamas after it has taken the reins of power in the Gaza Strip.

However, this scene is markedly different when it widens to include the Palestinian situation in all its communities. Away from the autonomous areas in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the left is at the forefront in the 48 regions (through the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality and the Democratic National Gathering, and other parties, personalities and groups), and the left is the emulating worthy force among the Palestinian communities in Lebanon and Syria, and is superior to the Fatah movement in the European and American expatriates.

From this, we conclude the following :The first main task of the Palestinian left is by building self, consolidating alliances and engaging in the mass movement, guided by a realistic political program, that puts behind the back, the miserable experience of the Oslo Accords, that can not ever lead to the achievement of the national rights of the people of Palestine.

4.- The «Two-state solution», where to ?

4.1- This term has overrun the political work arena strongly after the speech of President Bush in June 2002, three months after the launch of the «Arab Peace Initiative», which one of its goals was to block the initiative. The US administration subsequently had to abandon the «two-state solution» in order to include it, in a broader framework; that was the "road map" plan in April 2003, to cover the occupation of Iraq and the destruction of state institutions and their bases in this promising Arab country in the regional equation, then the "roadmap" was quickly neglected by the US administration, in favor of what was called the "Bush Promise" in April 2004, in which, in a letter was addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, he recognized the annexation of the settlement blocs to the State of Israel.

And within this atmospheres, the term of the "two-state solution", has returned to the circulation in the Bush administration, until the end of President Obama's presidency (January 2017).

4.2- The two-state solution is a loose term, has a very long distance from the Palestinian national program with its three pillars: an independent sovereign state on the June 5, 1967 borders' line, with Jerusalem as its capital, the right of return for Palestinian refugees guaranteed by resolution 194, and the recognition of the people of 48 regions as a national minority on the basis of equality of citizenship.

On the other hand, the "two-state solution" already involves, before the negotiating process reaches its conclusion, three major concessions: changing the 1967 lines through a so-called land swap, plus Jerusalem as a capital for two states, plus cancelling the right of return to homes and properties.

4.3- Regardless of the position of the "two-state solution", it is recognized that the Palestinian situation is unable to impose it, and the International Quartet (in its statement, June 7, 2016) ignored it, and Israel (society, government, and the state), despite all the Palestinian concessions, involved in this solution, doesn’t accept it, and the American administration during the Trump era does not even mention it.

As for the deliberated elements of the current solution in the American administration's decision-making center, they revolve around a number of headlines, that are based on the assumption that a peace agreement based on a two-state solution is illusionary at the moment, then what is needed, is to provide facilitations for the Palestinians, such as opening parts in Area C (62% of the West Bank) before the Palestinian economic activity, while Israel considers it as making concessions to the Palestinians, that are supposed to be matched by concrete public Arab moves that justify these concessions (!)

In this context, there is a talk about attracting Arab countries that find strategic interests that gather them with Israel, including what is related to the security challenges in the region, and to hold a regional conference with the functions of normalization and security and economic cooperation.

4.4- Away from predicting results for this policy, it is clear that the so-called "two-state solution" is unlikely excluded in the near term, also the "one-state solution" has no particular dynamism, with its good impact and its addressing to the Palestinian conscience, which brings us back to the origin of the conflict: the 1948 Nakba.

Therefore, the viable option for the Palestinian situation, is the result of the precious achievements of the Palestinian national struggle, in order to advance the prospects of the national program with its three pillars. This means the following:

A) Launching and renewing the popular movement against the occupation, in all places where the Palestinian people is existed, in the homeland, and in the four parts of the earth, as the interior is facing, and the outside is supporting the unity of struggle and action.

B) Continuing the internationalization of our national cause through:

* Expanding the circle of recognition of the State of Palestine and other Palestinian national rights;

* Expanding the membership of the State of Palestine with all available international institutions and agencies, after it was recognized with the observing membership of the State of Palestine in the United Nations (resolution 67/19);

* Pursuing and prosecuting Israel for its violations of the Geneva Conventions regarding the occupied countries and peoples and for committing war crimes, etc., by invoking the Human Rights Council, the International Criminal Court, etc.;

* Expanding the BDS campaign.

C) Seeking seriously to overcome the existing institutional division and restore the unity of the mother organization (PLO) and the PA.

D) Mobilizing all available resources to secure the steadfastness of our people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well as in the Diaspora camps.

E) Forming, stable and consistent coordinative formulas, if possible, between the PLO and the Palestinian representation in the 48 region.

 
Notes: Comrade Fahed Suleiman is a deputy Secretary General of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Translated by: Al-Hourriah English Staff
 

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