Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Hypocrisy of the Palestinian Authority

By Joseph Daher
(Student at SOAS) 

In a conference in Geneva called "women in resistance" Leila Shahid, representative of the PA at the European Union, spoke with great enthusiasm about Revolutions in the Arab world and of youth movements around the region. I therefore asked her what is her position towards the youth movement in Palestine, as she did not mention it at all. They have actually been attacked, arrested, and kidnapped by Fatah thugs and Palestinian Authority mukhabarat for demonstrating in the streets of the West Bank since the 15th of March. I asked her how can she speaks about plural and democratic society while the PA is repressing demonstrations and protesters now, as well when Palestinians wanted to show their support during the Egyptian and Tunisian Revolutions.

I told her that the President of the PA supported until the last day Moubarak, so how she differentiates from him. I told her several groups of Palestinians and supporters of the cause as me demonstrated around the world and in Palestine on the 15th of March to end the division, but also chanting songs as "end Oslo" or calling the "PA a collaborative state". For many of Palestinians and supporters, the PA represents the opposite of any form of resistance, more busy protecting settlements than Palestinians. This youth movement is a way to come back to principles and fundamentals of the Palestinian cause: any kind of resistance and not collaboration, what is her position I asked her?

Leila Shahid: The envoy of the Palestinian
Authority to the European Commission
She basically answered me that I don't live in Palestine so I should not talk like this and that I was ideological in my statement. She added that I should go demonstrate in front the Israeli embassy to ask for the end of the occupation instead of going in front PA representations. She avoided answering to my intervention and questions on what is happening in the West Bank now, while this was a conference organized around the issue of women in resistance, she also did not comment on violence perpetrated against women within the demonstrations in March, while we were providing her with evidence that it happened.

During the rest of the conference she was challenged by other members of the public and of the panel for not answering my question. She turned down the question and was aggressive against everyone. She repeatedly said she was proud to be a representative of the PA.

I personally salute what Leila Shahid did in the past for the Palestinians, but using credentials of the past cannot be in any way a justification or an excuse for what is happening now on the ground and for the behavior of the PA.

On the issue I can’t criticize the PA because I am not Palestinian, I disagree with this argument. I support the Palestinian cause and I am not Palestinian, I believe it is an Universalist and humanist cause, but the same way I support this cause, why should I not be allowed to criticize the PA on humanist principles. I don't think you have to be of a particular nationality to be able to support or criticize anything.
After this is not to say I take the place of the Palestinians in anyway, which I did not in anyway, did I ever say the Palestinians should do this or this? No! This is their own right! 

Few close Palestinian friends reacted to this “clash” after I sent them a resume of it. 
Here are few comments:

“It is more urgent than ever for the Palestinians to reclaim the PLO, their national institutions via direct Palestine National Council (PNC) elections, so that Palestine Liberation Organization representatives speak for them, and not against them!”

 “It is very ridiculous that whenever we criticize, shame and blame the PA for its irrational and illegal conduct, the given answer always is: Please go and use this energy against the Israeli occupation instead of the PA...How long should it take them to understand that the occupation does not path the way for the PA to commit crimes against its people. The occupation is the major creator of the mess Palestinians are sinking in, yet one should not be blind to the blunt truth that immorality remains immorality, it is not a subjective term that goes according the body that practices it...And truth should be said the PA reflects immoral actions towards Palestinian people”

Interesting how they immediately shift to "you should protest against the occupation " argument “
The March 15th movement is driven by the youth it is in part aimed at a civil Palestinian mobilization to end the catastrophic political factionalism. But it must be placed in the larger context of reclaiming the struggle to liberate Palestine. March 15th calls for an end to division, but this does not mean confinement to mere reconciliation rhetoric. In fact, the organizers explicitly demand the re-democratization of the Palestinian National Council and the establishment of new electoral law inclusive of all Palestinians inside and outside Palestine & Israel, stating: ‘Our demands for change go beyond ending Palestinian disunity and partial tweaks to the status quo. We insist on full democratic representation for Palestinians all over the world.’

It was actually the hijacking of the Palestine Liberation Organization by Fateh and the Oslo agreement of 1993 that excluded other parties as well as the Palestinian people from the decision-making process, and that undemocratically substituted the resistance doctrine with cooptation, concessions, and negotiations.
Therefore, an end to the division requires a thorough and substantive change of the entire framework of Palestinian politics.  Oslo must be put to an end, its birthchild the PA dissolved, and the PLO redefined as a representative movement inclusive of, amongst other parties, Hamas.

March 15th has invigorated Palestinian civil society.  In a reactionary move, Palestinian parties like Hamas, Fatah and Fayyad’s government are attempting to co-opt this grassroots non-aligned initiative by calling on their part for ‘End the Division’ protests. The PA and Hamas have expressed both rhetorical support for an end to division while simultaneously confronting the previous demonstrations in Ramallah and Gaza with violence and arrests. Hamas police also repressed many of protesters of the March 15th movement, killing one of them, while attacking and sexually assaulting some demonstrators.

As the PA continues to get bankrolled on American dollars and to engage in security cooperation with Israel, and as Hamas continues to dominate Gaza on the basis of the continuing fragmentation of the Palestinian struggle, it is unlikely that either side of the divide genuinely wants to put it to an end.

In conclusion, my intervention and my question was a way to salute the bravery and the determination of these young Palestinians-claiming, far from any factionalism such as Fatah or Hamas, the roots of the Palestinian cause: Resistance.  This notion of Resistance is crucial today against the continual aggressive behavior of the Apartheid, colonial and Settler State of Israel. The youth movement is reminding to the different political parties, and especially the PA, that the real enemy is the Zionist State and not other Palestinians, while the objective should be liberation and not the quest for power.

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