Michael Jansen
The Jordan Times (Opinion)
November 19, 2009 - 1:00am

The declaration by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he does not wish to run for a second term if and when elections are held has shocked both Israel and the US. His presence at the top of the Palestinian Authority provided them with the cover they needed to pursue their own selfish policies: Israel to continue its colonisation enterprise in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the US to carry on with its longstanding capitulation to the demands of the powerful hardline Zionist lobby, which marches in lockstep with the right-wing Israeli government.

According to reports from Ramallah, Abbas may also be thinking of dissolving the Palestinian Authority if his efforts fail to end Israeli colonisation and restart negotiations where they left off last December. Such a step is long overdue. After all, the Palestinian Authority, established in 1994, was called the Palestinian Interim Self-Governing Authority (PISGA), and was meant to operate until 1999 or 2000 when a sovereign Palestinian government would be established in a Palestinian state encompassing East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

As the godfather of the “Oslo process” designed to reach this objective, Abbas has every right - after 16 years of “process” and no state - to call a halt and dismantle the PISGA. The occupied territories would revert to Israel’s occupation, thereby forcing Israel to take responsibility for the people who live there. If he decides to take this step, he should also call upon international donors to halt all aid to the Palestinians, including to the refugees who receive shelter and rations from the UN, and compel Israel to provide food, shelter, education, health and welfare for 4.3 million Palestinians.

Israel has never been forced to meet its obligations as an occupier because the international community has financed its illegal occupation by providing the assistance to keep the Palestinians afloat at low-to-modest levels.

If Abbas were do dissolve the PA/PISGA of which he is the current president, he would retain two other posts: head of Fateh and chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Both were founded as resistance organisations. Therefore, this would mean that he has, at long last, understood that there is no point in trying to negotiate with Israel because it has no intention of reaching a deal which would give the Palestinians their own state. And, finally, he has realised that he cannot count on the US to take action to make Israel permit such a state to emerge.

Abbas has reiterated his support for the “two-state solution”. However, if he decides to shut down the PA/PISGA, he will be left with only one option to achieve this end: return to the armed struggle. This could reunite Fateh, which has adhered to Abbas’ failed “peace policy”, and Hamas, which has always distrusted the negotiations route and preferred resistance.

Of course, this option will be much more difficult now that Israel has built its West Bank wall and cordoned off Gaza. But resistance is always possible if Palestinians are determined to struggle and political factions draw up an intelligent strategy to which all adhere. For this to happen Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees will have to be brought into the PLO and given a voice in decision making. This would be a far easier task than at present because the PLO, dominated by Fateh, has been committed to negotiations while Hamas and its allies favour resistance.

Although the “two-state” solution is the option favoured by a majority of Palestinians, PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said it is about time the authority “is honest” and recognises that Israel will never permit the creation of a state for the Palestinian people. The only option, he said, is the “one-state solution”, a bi-national state in geographic Palestine where all citizens would have equal rights.

Although an increasing number of influential Palestinians agree with him, Israel rejects this possibility even more vehemently than it opposes the “two-state solution”. Indeed, Israel sees the bi-national state as a threat because Palestinians, who have a higher birth rate than Israeli Jews, are expected to form a majority by 2016. The “one-state solution” as defined by Palestinians is, therefore, the worst option for Israeli Jews who reject extending to Palestinians equal civil and human rights. They demand a “Jewish state” dominated by Jews and are determined to hold on to the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem, and to the Syrian Golan Heights. They also want to continue controlling Gaza from the periphery.

Even if Abbas does not decide to dissolve the PA, its destruction is inevitable as Israel expands colonies, builds new military and police bases, and tightens control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. If there is no change in Israeli and US policies, Palestinians will be faced with the emergence of an archipelago of islets where local - and perhaps rival - Palestinian factions would enjoy a limited degree of autonomy. The Israeli armed forces will continue to spy on and conduct raids into these areas in order to prevent the creation of any serious resistance organisations.

The current system of permissions and passes will be elaborated so that only Palestinian collaborators would be allowed to travel between their islets of territory, work in regions under full Israeli control (currently Area C which constitutes 60 per cent of the West Bank) or travel outside the country. Like the people of Gaza, West Bankers will be inmates sentenced to life imprisonment in enclaves on their own land.

Any Palestinian who dares show leadership tendencies or express opposition will be jailed, deported or killed. Since armed resistance will become increasingly difficult, mass action will become the main alternative. Israel will try to quell such action by brute force. (This is, in fact, the route Palestinians mounting weekly protests against the wall have already adopted with predictable results on the Israeli side).

To halt creeping apartheid, Palestinians need a committed, clean, intelligent leadership like that which emerged during the first Intifada (1987-93). This cannot be provided by Abbas and the Fateh cadres who returned to Palestine from exile. They have failed to win the state by armed rebellion (1965-1988), declaration (1988) and negotiations (1993-now). Therefore, West Bankers, East Jerusalemites and Gazans have to take over as they did during the first Intifada and come up with a new comprehensive strategy.

The capitulation of President Barack Obama to the US Zionist lobby and the refusal of Europe to punish Israel for colonising Palestinian land and committing war crimes against the Palestinians mean that the Palestinians have to count on themselves alone. Resistance is the only way, whether by force of arms or people’s power.


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