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Is the plo playing with the Palestinian national cause?

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By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine

(source: Palestine Information Center)

Mahmoud Abbas

Despite rhetorical denials, the PLO and Palestinian Authority (PA), which Fatah constitutes the backbone of both, are moving steadily toward adopting positions that would effectively compromise inalienable Palestinian rights and might even lead to the liquidation of  the Palestinian cause.

The reported PLO propensity to “deal positively” with dubious “peace plans” that would obliterate Palestinian rights should alarm all patriotic Palestinians.

After all, the Palestinian cause is not the property of unelected politicians who think they have a carte blanch to behave as they see fit with regard to such fundamental issues  as the right of return and Jerusalem .

Unfortunately, the signs and signals that keep coming from the PLO and PA quarters don’t auger well for the future. Hence, the urgent need to speak up and warn these  unelected leaders against playing with fire.

First, there is the so-called Fayyad vision or plan  for creating a  Palestinian state with temporary borders under the Israeli occupation, a state that would very much look like a  Judenrat (Jewish community council under the Nazi occupation of Europe ). How else can one honestly relate to an entity that is completely void of sovereignty, freedom and the most elementary requirements of statehood?

Fayyad, an economist-turned-politician at Washington’s urging seems to think that building a sound economic base with international support would be sufficient to transform the vision of statehood from dream to reality. However, the man who reportedly had described himself as “George Bush’s man in Palestine” wouldn’t tell us how it is possible to build a sound economic base in a country that continues to languish under a Nazi-like military occupation which tightly controls every aspect of Palestinian life. Well, doesn’t Mr. Fayyad realize that Palestinians can hardly travel from Ramallah, the seat of his government, to any other Palestinian town in the West Bank without an Israeli permit? Doesn’t he realize that Israel has the ultimate and final say over the smallest transaction of money from abroad to occupied Palestine or vice versa? Doesn’t he know that the Shin Beth, Israel’s chief domestic security agency, decides which Palestinian can travel abroad? Finally, Fayyad ought to explain to the Palestinian people how such a fantastic entity would function in the absence of any territorial contiguity linking the various  Bantustans and townships comprising the contemplated state? Hence, one wonders how such a state, which would be laminated with big, bombastic  names and a lot of trappings but with utterly no substance, serve the national interests of the Palestinian people. In all honesty, such a state would be a huge disaster for the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people. It would be proven a solution for Israel’s and Zionism’s problems, first and foremost, since it would enable Israel to claim that the Palestinian issue was finally resolved with the creation of a Palestinian state. More to the point, Israel would be able to use this farce as an effective propaganda  tool to endear itself to the Arab-Muslim world by arguing that Arabs and Muslims can’t be more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves who are quite satisfied with their lot. Furthermore, Israeli hasbara  (propaganda)  efforts might  receive a helping hand from some Palestinian officials and spokesmen eager to defend the “new state” in the face of those who spread  “doubts and rumors” about its national credentials.” Fayyad is not only making a balloon test to find out Palestinian and international reactions to his gambit. He must be coordinating his move with PLO leadership which is constantly  retreating from the erstwhile  national constants that continue to enjoy an overwhelming national consensus. True, the PLO, especially the Fatah leadership, continues to make rhetorical statements reasserting their commitment to a full Israel withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967 as well as  the right of some 4.5 million refugees, dispersed to the four corners of the globe, to return to their homes and villages from which they were brutally uprooted when the Zionist state was created more than 61 years ago. However, we all know that the Fatah leadership’s declared commitment to the right of return is only symbolic and mainly  propagandistic in nature. Indeed, PLO officials, including Mahmoud Abbas, said on numerous occasions that when Palestinians speak about the right of return for the refugees, what they actually mean  is a return to the contemplated Palestinian state, not to “ Israel” where the bulk of these refugees and their ancestors had been living for centuries. In fact, the PLO retreat doesn’t merely stop at compromising  the right of return but also encompasses the subject of al-Quds al Sharif (Noble Jerusalem), which the Israeli occupation regime continues to Judaize at an alarming rate, by obliterating its Arab-Islamic identity using bulldozers and explosives and other means of ethnic cleansing. Indeed, statements and remarks by PLO officials, especially Abbas and his immediate coterie of aides, advisors and hangers-on, continue to make diluted statements about Jerusalem , which reveals a principled willingness to accept the annexation to Israel of huge parts of the occupied city in the context of any final-status settlement  with the Zionist state. “We have to be realistic and pragmatic,” these demoralized officials and “leaders” would say in private conversations. Unfortunately, the “new” PLO-Fatah leadership seems to have interpreted  the recent Fatah elections, not as a reassertion of traditional positions opposing Israeli territorial expansion and  efforts to liquidate the right of return, but rather as a vindication of the Abbas-Fayyad line whereby Palestinians would have to accept what is internationally possible in terms of what the Palestinians are realistically  able to extricate from Israel’s parsimonious hands. This is at odd with the mendacious and misleading rhetoric by many Fatah leaders who don’t stop claiming that the group’s Sixth Congress, which took place in   Bethlehem in early August, was a valuable asset benefiting the  Palestinian cause and bolstering the so-called Arafat line. Well, the coming days and weeks will show that the Fatah leadership is either day-dreaming or deliberately not telling the truth to the Palestinian people. There is no doubt that there are many patriotic people within Fatah, an organization that undeniably shouldered the national cause for many years. But it is also true that corrupt and mediocre elements do have the upper hand and, more importantly, control the coffers of Fatah, which enable them to dictate and impose their views on the rest of the movement, perhaps save honest people like Farouk Kaddumi, who are too old and too powerless to reverse the tides against the “pragmatists” who think that the goal of statehood overrides any other cause, including the right of return and the liberation of al-Quds from the claws of Zionism. One would always want to consider the half-filled glass and not give in to pessimism. However, one must also guard against false optimism to avoid disastrous ramifications. It is said that Fatah’s financial survival depends nearly completely on the PA which is kept afloat thanks to regular handouts from western donors, especially the US and its Arab puppet regimes. This financial dependence, as has been repeatedly demonstrated, is nearly always translated into political cooption, as is clear from Fatah’s disgraceful silence vis-à-vis the criminal security coordination between the newly-founded PA security apparatus and the Israeli occupation army. Well, there are those who would argue rather candidly that if Fatah could tolerate the close “operational coordination” with Israel, it likewise would  be willing to come to terms with the liquidation of the Palestinian cause in one way or the other, for the sake of political survival and especially for the  hefty salaries at the end of the month. I hope this is not going to be the case.


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