Is the Palestinian Central Council asking Abbas for the impossible?

Neither Abbas nor Hamas would be able to hide the despicable reality of their rule.
Sunday 04/11/2018
Political manoeuvres. Palestinian President Mahmoud  Abbas (2nd R) speaks during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council in Ramallah, on October 28.   		             (AFP)
Political manoeuvres. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (2nd R) speaks during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council in Ramallah, on October 28. (AFP)

The final communique of the Palestinian Central Council (PCC) meeting on October 29 was loaded with four difficult — if not impossible — demands.

It called for: 1) the suspension of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s recognition of the State of Israel until Israel recognises the State of Palestine on the borders of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital; 2) the suspension of security coordination and economic relations between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel; 3) the continuation of efforts to establish an independent and sovereign Palestinian state; 4) reclaiming Gaza from Hamas.

The meeting was boycotted by most Palestinian national factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

There were other items in the communique but these were less significant. All items were introduced with words such as “calling,” “saluting” and “valuing” but looking at the difficult four, perhaps these gems should have been introduced with “wishing.”

It is as if those decisions were sentimental messages unrelated to a strong determination on the part of the person who decides alone. The man who decides is Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president and head of Fatah movement.

Abbas promised the council would come out with unwavering decisions but nobody knew how they would be implemented. In fact, the whole thing seemed just a matter of discourse.

The PA was created on terms of the Oslo Accords, which include recognising the State of Israel. The PA also had to accept the terms of the Paris Economic Protocol, by which all supplies to the PA’s territory enter through Israel, which levies taxes on them.

As to Hamas’s control of Gaza, it took place openly in June 2007. Israel did not intervene because it served its interests. The PA could do nothing and tolerated the separation.

The question is this: Why would Abbas allow a council, which is at his beck and call, to issue a statement with such a heavy load? Surely he knows how difficult it would be for him to execute the recommendations of his council.

It could be a public relations operation. The man needs a statement from a “central council” to demonstrate the pressure he’s under. Maybe those ungrateful Americans and Israelis would give him some slack.

The Palestinians, however, including those who were at the meeting and those who boycotted it, want something else. Perhaps he wanted to evade satisfying their demands by appealing to the tremendous pressure placed on him.

Another explanation might be that there is a desire by the council to rebuild the Palestinian political consensus and its mechanisms. There is perhaps a desire to bring back the principle of collective responsibility and end the stage of placing decisions in the hands of just one person.

Maybe the council wants to empower the popular will by any means available. Maybe in this despicable internal Palestinian reality, where those standing at the top of the power pyramid have hit rock bottom, Abbas wanted to say that he still has the most important duties, just as dictators would do when, under the pretext of confronting external foes, they confiscate all powers internally.

One thing is for sure, however, neither Abbas nor Hamas would be able to hide the despicable reality of their rule. See the 149-page report by Human Rights Watch documenting human rights violations and torture at the hands of the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza.

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