Palestinians out of sync with reality

It has become obvious that Fatah and Hamas are avoiding recourse to a popular vote.
Thursday 07/02/2019
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (3-R) meets with Palestinian National Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki (2-L) in Moscow, last December. (DPA) 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (3-R) meets with Palestinian National Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki (2-L) in Moscow, last December. (DPA) 

A look at the Palestinian scene reveals one development and its opposite happening in tandem.

Recent focus has been on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s suggestion to establish a government representing all Palestinian factions. What Abbas must have meant was that the factions he was talking about were those in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) or at least those that would go along with his suggestion.

At the same time, there was talk of a Palestinian dialogue in mid-February in Moscow. Palestinian Authority Ambassador to Russia Abdel Hafiz Nofal spoke of such a meeting involving ten Palestinian factions, including Hamas.

It appears this Russian initiative -- if it was a real initiative -- can be no more than an exploratory operation in which various delegations are given the opportunity to travel and change the atmosphere because the Russians, Nofal said, will not interfere in the Palestinian dialogue.

This means that those Palestinian parties that have resisted Egyptian mediation regarding the Palestinian split will not interact unless mediated by an outside party, keeping in mind that Egypt’s influence on Palestinian factions is incomparably greater than Russian influence. This indicates that the call on the blocs and Hamas to meet in Moscow seemed futile from the start.

What was even more futile was talk of a new Palestinian government, described as a political one. This description reflects the intention of tasking Abbas’s Fatah central committee with forming a government and trying to entice other factions to participate formally but without any real weight.

Such a government would push for severing connections with Hamas, Gaza and the reconciliation project and would be one of the forms of preparing for complete separation of the West Bank and Gaza.

On the other hand, this call for a new government, despite that the composition of the body and the names of potential candidates for its leadership have been widely leaked, can be viewed as just another manoeuvre to maintain the status quo.

Palestinians view such an approach as an attempt by the political class to evade its obligation to implement constitutional entitlements and hand power to the people. After more than ten years of failure to reach a formula to end the Palestinian division, there is no alternative but to submit to pressure from the region and the Arab League and agree that an independent election commission should prepare for a fair and transparent electoral process.

It has become obvious that Fatah and Hamas are avoiding recourse to a popular vote. During periods of relative rapprochement, both organisations tended to favour a quota system but, judging by their behaviour in their areas of influence, it is clear they both rule with an iron fist and exclusion.

They have done everything to sharply split the Palestinian public opinion and tear the social fabric, pushing people to seek migration to escape poverty and despair. This was done at a crucial time in the Palestinian cause.

The rivals deliberately ignored the Palestinian people’s demonstrations and actions demanding an end to the division and unifying ranks to defend remaining aspects of a Palestinian presence in the region.

The Palestinian people continue to express their refusal of both rivals escalating tensions despite the Egyptian efforts to heal the rift and achieve the long-awaited national reconciliation.

This reconciliation has become a necessity because the division has been a heavy burden. Palestinian losses that ensued from such division have proven far worse than from any other setback suffered during the Palestinian struggle.

It’s this division that has allowed the occupation to gain in arrogance and territorial expansion and allowed the Israeli colonisers to enjoy impunity, encroach on Palestinian rights and resort to assassination.

The Israeli colonisation wouldn’t have dared do all of that if it weren’t sure of the impotence of the Palestinian side because of the divisions consuming its body. While Palestinians remain preoccupied with their differences, far from concerning themselves with the future and indifferent to the crimes of demolition, displacement and Judaisation of Palestinian communities, Palestinian society will remain a victim of its failure to close ranks and form a consensus on key issues.

The latest dual initiatives -- the so-called Moscow dialogue and the formation of a political government -- can be considered a waste of time and of avoiding the national entitlement to reconciliation and renewal of legitimacy through free and fair elections.