Abdullah Iskandar
Dar Al-Hayat (Opinion)
October 7, 2009 - 12:00am

What would have happened if the Human Rights Council had voted in favor of referring Goldstone's report to the Security Council? Certainly, the United States would have practiced its veto power to prevent the completion of the report which accuses Israel and Hamas of committing "war crimes" during the aggression on the Gaza Strip. In other words, the result would have been the same if the Palestinian Authority had not requested to delay the voting until next March.

As such, the calculations of the Palestinian Authority differ from those of Hamas vis-à-vis the stance on the report. The PA deemed it useless to refute the American position and thus lose a supporter for the two-state solution. Hamas, which is condemned by the report, considered that the issue will condemn the American stance which supports the occupation and exposes the fragility of the new approach of President Barack Obama's administration. Therefore, it saves the movement from the accusations leveled against it.

However, these simplified calculations of the PA collided quickly with the complications of the Palestinian domestic situation and those of the battle with Israel. Therefore, these calculations represented a political and national mistake, one that was not covered by the confusion in justifying the position or the delayed call to refer the report to the Security Council.

Aside from the designations of humiliation and shame and betrayal etc… that were given to the PA and its presidents by his rivals, particularly the Islamists, it is not comprehensible – at the level of running the conflict with Israel at the present time – to overlook the occupation's atrocious practices, whether regarding the military activities against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip or the settlement policy in the West Bank. These practices reflect one Israeli policy with which no progress can be achieved in any peace talks. Its main role is to abort any pressures put on the Hebrew state to make it accept the peace conditions. The settlement issue serves as a clear example of this approach. In this sense, the Palestinian submission to the American pressure - that is aimed at preventing the condemnation of Israel out of its concern about the negotiations, is in itself an attempt to foil them… But the result is that the PA seemed as if it is defending these Israeli practices which would supposedly finish off Hamas during the aggression on Gaza.

The repercussions of this national failure were further heightened by the current political developments in which the PA too is facing a major challenge. Cairo has set a date for the signature of the Palestinian reconciliation document in 20 days, but the elements of this reconciliation returned all at once on the table, in light of the current political campaign staged by Hamas and its allies against the PA, and its doubts over the usefulness of its policy and national project, let alone its doubts over how to restructure the Palestinian leadership, particularly at the security level. The attempts of the extremist Jews to enter to Al-Aqsa Mosque - and the protection they enjoyed by the Israeli authorities who staged a campaign against the Palestinians defending al-Aqsa – deprived the PA of a card that has an exceptional importance in the conflict with Israel. Thanks to this battle, the Islamists succeeded – whether in the West Bank or Jerusalem or inside the green line, in leading the battle which the PA was supposed to lead.

The PA and those around it committed the mistake of mixing up between the Fatah-Hamas conflict and the management of the struggle with Israel, including the negotiations. The PA thus seemed as though it was abandoning the issues and symbols of the Palestinian cause, which are the occupation and its practices and violations in Jerusalem. The Islamists however intended to spearhead the battle in both positions, at the expense of the PA, with all what this entails in terms of returning to discuss national and political legitimacy and the description of those in charge of the Palestinian cause.

Therefore, it is not very useful for the PA to conduct an investigation to determine the responsibility regarding the the report. The delayed request to refer to the Security Council or to stress the desire for reconciliation and negotiations is also useless. The political tactics to preserve a certain position or legitimacy are too futile. This position and legitimacy are only preserved for the side that spearheads the battle of the causes and symbols in the Palestinian cause. In this context, Hamas scored essential points in its favor and at the expense of the PA.


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