Now What? The Million Dollar Question Before the Palestinian Authority

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Top left: Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the defunct PLO Executive Committee since July 2015; lower left: Hussam Badran, member of the political bureau of Hamas; right: Hani Al Masri, Director General of Masarat

Rima Najjar

It took 72 years, but the true nature of the Jewish Zionist invasion of Palestine is now fully revealed to the world and overtly practiced through a continuum that began in Basel, Switzerland in 1897 with the first Zionist Congress and has now culminated in Trump’s “deal.”

In Ramallah, 123 years after the fateful Basel congress almost to the week, Masarat: The Palestinian Center for Policy Research & Strategic Studies is holding its ninth annual conference, titled “Palestine after Trump’s vision: What’s to be done?”

It is hoped that this conference will lead to the first international Palestinian congress.

“What surfaces above everything else at the conference is a resolute refusal to accept the subjugation imposed by Israel, the United States and their allies.”

The expression ‘between a rock and a hard place’ has never been more accurate in describing the Palestinian political situation as it is at this moment.

That’s because the disastrous internationally-backed edifice to be brought down is not built upon the useful framework of “settler-colonialism” and “apartheid” against which the struggle for justice in Palestine, activism and public opinion have rallied.

Rather, it is built on the diplomacy of might is right, of powerful and pervasive special interest lobbies playing the Jewish card.

Might is now pushing to liquidate the Palestinian cause.

Right, in the shape of the Palestinian Authority and all those participating in the conference from inside and outside Palestine, is enmeshed in accords between the defunct Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the state of Israel. The practical result of this ravaging trap is poignantly described by an American national married to a Palestinian in Ramallah:

Do you have any inkling as to what it means when the PA [Palestinian Authority] stops coordinating with Israel? It is a nightmare. They control everything.

My new baby just got a passport and national id number, but she can’t leave with me because these numbers aren’t in the Israeli system and won’t be for the foreseeable future. My husband renewed his Palestinian passport — also this new number, it’s not in their system. And they control the borders, so…never-mind travel?

“If Saeb Erekat’s derisive performance during the opening session of the conference is anything to go by, however, the only thing in short supply is political backbone and will.”

When the people can’t see what’s going on to themselves, as the existing political order in the West Bank appears to be doing, that’s a sure sign of more misfortune on the horizon.

The Palestinian Authority must not fail to accept and address the stark reality myriad policy analysts at Masarat and elsewhere have long been signalling.

Here is a bare-bones exposition of the PA’s problem by the Palestinian historian Nur Masalha as posted on his Facebook page (my translation):

It is important to understand the real Israeli strategy and the real Zionist consensus, which is completely different from the Palestinian “wishful thinking” about what the Israeli strategy should be.

The Israeli strategy is not a “one-state solution” versus a “two-state solution.” This is a Palestinian discussion, not an Israeli discussion.

For the Israelis, the Palestinians can create “two states” or even “three states” or “fiefdoms” — one in Gaza and two in Area A (one in the northern West Bank and another in the southern West Bank) — provided that they accept “these three Palestinian states” or “fiefdoms” are under Israeli domination and Israeli control over most of the area between the river and the sea.

In the mid-1990s I argued (at the height of the Oslo process) that Rabin’s strategy (in Oslo) was not a “two-state solution” nor an annexation of all of the West Bank.

The Israeli strategy in the West Bank has always been based on annexing to the Jewish state the maximum land area with the minimum number of Palestinians.

This remains the current Israeli strategy in the West Bank: maximizing annexation in the West Bank through more “facts on the ground” and more colonial settlements to follow legal annexation — while ensuring, at the same time, a maximum limit to the Palestinian population outside the Jewish state; in fact, not to grant “citizenship” to more Palestinians and to keep “Arab” citizens of the Jewish state at about 20–22 percent.

Even Sharon’s decision to leave Gaza unilaterally in 2005, a region with nearly two million Palestinians, most of them refugees, while losing little land fits the Zionist formula of “maximum land, minimum number of Arabs in the Jewish state.” Remember also that Israel has no plans to directly re-occupy Gaza, because Gaza has two million Palestinians.

This also explains why the Israeli strategy now focuses on 60 percent of the West Bank (the so-called “Area C” under the Oslo Accords — with the smallest concentration of Palestinians in the West Bank) while reserving most of “Area A” and some of “Area B” for the Palestinian Authority to control through its security and police services.

Also, we must not forget that the Palestinian security services since the second intifada have been trained by the CIA and US officers. In this sense, the Zionist political consensus and the current Israeli strategy are in line with both the 1967–1970 (“autonomy”) plan and the 1993–1994 (“autonomy”) arrangements.

But as I have always argued, the results of the struggle over the entire area of ​​historical Palestine depend not only on Zionist plans — but also on what the Palestinians do (and what the Palestinians don’t do) and the first task for the Palestinians must be to re-arrange their house (and their leadership) to devise many strategies, not just one, for long-term survival and liberation in our historic homeland.

The calls coming out of Masarat’s conference are for unity, inclusiveness and, most importantly, for the return of revolutionary struggle to the Palestinian political scene.

There is no shortage of spirit, sharp analyses at the conference or of emerging outside-the-box proposals. What surfaces above everything else is a resolute refusal to accept the subjugation imposed by Israel, the United States and their allies.

If Saeb Erekat’s derisive performance during the opening session of the conference is anything to go by, however, the only thing in short supply is political backbone and will.

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