The US warns Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas against dissolving the Palestinian Authority, said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
She described dissolving the interim administrative body that was a product of the 1993 Oslo Accords as an extreme step that could have grave implications and fundamentally alter relations between Washington and Ramallah.
The statement was made in response to an announcement by senior Palestinian legislator Bassam al-Salhi within the context of reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas, and considerations within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to dissolve the PA.
The PA was established as an interim legislative body following the 1993 Oslo Accords. It was to be substituted by an elected government after the implementation of the Oslo Accords and the establishment of a Palestinian State, which was made impossible by Israel’s continued occupation, settlement expansion, and a cohort of other factors, including Palestinians.
The Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority has widely been criticized for being beholden to the USA and the EU to a degree that it earned a reputation for being a “quisling” administration.
Note that Israel, initially, supported Hamas with the intention to weaken Fatah and other factions. Both the Fatah-dominated PA and the Qatar- and indirectly Israeli-supported, Khaled Mashal-led faction of Hamas, were in other words instrumentalized to stall the implementation of Oslo and the transition from the interim “Palestinian Authority” to an elected government within a sovereign Palestinian State.
Israel’s direct response to the announcement about the reconciliation talks, which would include talks about a national unity government and the dismantling of the interim PA, was to bar senior Palestinian legislator Dr. Mustafa Barghouti from entering the Gaza Strip, where the talks were to be held.
The discontinuation of the PA would also, fundamentally, change relations between Tel Aviv and Ramallah, not least with regard to the so-called “security cooperation” between the PA and Israeli authorities.
Palestinian factions and senior PLO legislators have consistently demanded that the PA ends the security cooperation which effectively transformed the PA into an instrument for the occupation.
Factions in opposition to Fatah have consistently denounced Fatah for abusing the security cooperation with Israel so as to crack down on the opposition and to crack down on every political and popular movement that opposes the status quo.
Senior PLO legislators have since the start of the “peace talks” noticed increased PA crack-downs against opponents to the talks and noted that detainees who had been released by the PA often were re-arrested by Israeli occupation forces, shortly after their release.
One stark example how Fatah used the PA to crack down on opposition was the arrest of the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Ahmed Sa´adat.
Sa’adat represents the second largest faction within the PLO and the strongest political competitor to Fatah among the progressive factions.
Sa’adat was arrested by the PA’s security and intelligence services and first imprisoned under “international” that is US supervision, in a Palestinian prison. Later, the PFLP Secretary General was transferred to an Israeli prison. Sa’adat has spent over 12 years in prison due to the PA’s “security cooperation“.
It is within this context that the US State Department may threaten, saying that the dismantling of the PA would have grave implications and fundamentally change relations between the Washington and Ramallah.
Indeed, dismantling the PA would mean fundamental change in US – Palestinian relations. Much needed change, would many of the PLO’s most senior legislators probably say. Speaking at a State Department press briefing, Jen Psaki added:
“A great deal of effort has gone into building Palestinian institutions, by Palestinians as well as the international community, and it would certainly not be in the interests of the Palestinian people for all of that to be lost. … We, the United States, have put millions of dollars into this effort. It would obviously have very serious implications for our relationship, including our assistance going forward”.
Psaki said the White House hopes that the Palestinian and Israeli parties would agree to extend the negotiations, and stressed that US Secretary of State John Kerry is willing to return to the region to continue with the efforts to salvage the peace talks.
The fact that the US Secretary of State would try to use his diplomatic talents and an not unsubstantial amount of pressure ranging from political to economic blackmail, would not be surprising for anyone who has observed the evolution of the US sponsored “peace talks”.
To sum up some of the outcomes of the talks, one could recall that PA President Mahmoud Abbas, in February, agreed to have US/NATO troops stationed in the Jordan Valley. Many would describe that as a “motivating factor” for the US State Department to attempt to salvage the “talks”. It is especially important to note that PA President Abbas made the astounding suggestion in February, despite consistent demands from the side of senior PLO legislators to end the talks.
On January 15, at a press conference, the PLO Executive Committee Secretary General Yasser Abbed Rabbo said that the Palestinian leadership rejects the proposals of US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Rabbo stressed that the peace process hit Israeli-built walls, and that Kerry’s suggestions of a Palestine without a capital, without borders and sovereignty, that gives up the right of return while accepting Israel as a Jewish state, and a Palestine that agrees to further settlements on Palestinian land instead of a withdrawal, is unacceptable.
“The Peace process is hitting large walls, the walls of Israel’s illegal settlements, of Israel’s rejection to recognize our internationally guaranteed rights. Tel Aviv is merely placing more obstacles and preconditions. … Israel wants to build a wall in the Jordan Valley, similar to its apartheid wall in the West of the West Bank, so that it can keep its illegal settlements and military bases”.
On January 13, Jamil Mizer, a member of the Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said called for an end to the US-facilitated talks with Israel and a rejection of the proposals tabled by US Secretary of State John Kerry, stressing that the proposals threaten the Palestinian National Movement and the Palestinian right of return. Mizer said:
“There is talk about the liquidation of the Palestinian refugee cause, the return of hundreds of thousands to the lands occupied in 1948, and the dismantling of the right of return of over six million Palestinian refugees in the camps, in exile and in the diaspora, who are waiting for their moment to return to the homes and lands from which they were expelled”.
Taiseer Khaled, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, underlined that the positions of the United States and of Israel, with regards to the Palestinian’s internationally guaranteed right of return and the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state are coherent and identical. Khaled said:
“They want us to drop the legitimate rights of the displaced Palestinians, they are proposing the settling of the refugees in the countries they live in or in a different state. … Israel does not admit to its responsibility for displacing the refugees, it does not recognize their rights, and wants the international community to deal with them”.
Khaled stressed that the proposal made by Kerry is in part based on proposals by former US President Bill Clinton, who suggested the return of some externally displaced refugees to the Palestinian territories, in which ever borders a final agreement would establish, while rejecting the right of return of all of the Palestinians who were displaced from historical Palestine in 1948.
Tearing down Trojan Horses
Monday, April 21, 2014, it was reported the PLO Executive Committee member Hanna Amira announced that the PLO has been considering the option of disbanding the Palestinian Authority.
The statement was made within the context of the announcements of the reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas and other Palestinian Factions. Hanna Amira told the Ma’ an news agency that scenarios had been discussed that could lead to the disbandment of the PA. Amira said:
“The future of the PA has become unclear, because when it was established, it was meant as a temporary stage leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state. … Thus, if the PA does not lead to statehood, things should be reviewed.”
Amira’s comment came after the Israeli daily newspaper Maariv quoted Abbas as threatening to disband the PA. Maariv quoted Abbas as saying:
“I don’t need Netanyahu. I don’t need a chief of staff. Give me a junior officer or even a lieutenant and I will deliver the PA keys to him. Here you are, take charge and I will leave in an hour”.
The Importance of the Historical Context
To understand just some of the historical context, one could review an article dealing with the murder of Yassir Arafat, written in November 2013.
In a statement to the press, the nephew of the late Yassir Arafat stressed the words of the then Israeli Prime Minister, Arien Sharon, who at a press conference said:
“Invading Ramallah and the isolation of Arafat is only the beginning of an extended military offensive that aims at uprooting the infrastructure of terrorism”.
Al-Qodwa concluded his statement by reiterating the Arafat’s words, uttered during one of the lifelong Palestinian liberation fighter’s last public statements:
“They want me to become a prisoner, or wanted, or dead; and I tell them I am a martyr, a martyr, a martyr”.
Washington approved of Israel’s Assassination Plans. The planned assassination of Yassir Arafat, approved by Israel’s parliament, was dubbed Operation Fields of Thorns. The operation, that is the murder of Palestine’s first head of state, was subsequently approved by the United States, who vetoed a Security Council resolution in condemnation of the Israeli cabinet’s decision “to get rid of Arafat.”
Both the core of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority already were corrupted before the murder of Arafat.
Recall, for example, that it was on Arafat’s direct orders that PFLP Secretary General Ahmad Sa’ adat was arrested. The PA, under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, is described by Palestinian factions as a “Quisling” government with Abbas in the role of a Vidkun Quisling. Independent international observers, the author included, have come to the same conclusion.
The renowned political analyst and director for the Canada based Centre for Research on Globalization, Dr. Michael Chossudovsky, denounced the PA for being a Zionist and US proxy, saying:
“Mahmoud Abbas is a Palestinian quisling. He was installed as leader of Fatah, with the approval of Israel and the US, which finance the Palestinian Authority’s paramilitary and security forces”.
Conclusion and a Return to a Credible Palestine
When the US State Department threatens grave consequences, and when the US State Department stresses that dismantling the Palestinian Authority would mean a fundamental change in the relations between Washington and Ramallah, it should be understandable why many senior PLO legislators would insist on adding “much needed, long overdue, fundamental changes in the relations between Washington and Ramallah”.
One might add that dismantling the Palestinian Authority also could lead to much needed, long-overdue and fundamental changes in the relations between Ramallah and Tel Aviv.
These changes would include an end to the so-called security cooperation and a return to a policy of liberation and resistance. Both Washington, Tel Aviv, and the most ardent proponents for the continuation of the status quo within Fatah, have good reason to be “concerned” about the dismantling of the PA.
The Palestinian people have nothing to lose by disbanding the “interim” PA. They have nothing to lose by tearing down Trojan Horses. The “people” of Palestine would no longer have to be concerned about an internal enemy that cracks down upon them while they pursue legitimate initiatives to empower themselves in a revitalized, credible struggle for the liberation of Palestine. Things could hardly get any worse than they have been since the 1993 Oslo accords.
Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc international. He is a psychologist and independent political consultant on conflict, conflict resolution related issues. His work with traumatized victims of conflict has led him to also pursue the work as political consultant. He is a lifelong activist for peace and justice, human rights, Palestinians rights to self-determination in Palestine, and he is working on the establishment of international institutions for the prosecution of all war crimes, also those committed by privileged nations- In 2011 he retired from clinical and most advisory work and focuses on editing nsnbc international since 2013.
More articles by Dr. Lehmann.