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Losers on the Banks of Impotence
By: Moatasem Hamadeh
October 13, 2018

In a half-empty hall, absent by heads of delegation, President Mahmoud Abbas delivered the speech of Palestine at the annual session of the United Nations, in which he reiterated his explanation of the Palestinian question in front of the representatives of the international community. There are a few key observations include:

• He spoke as president in a presidential system, bypassing the fact that the Palestinian system, as approved by the Independence Document (15/11/1988), provided for a parliamentary system, and that the Palestinian leadership is now based on the dualism of the National Council and the Executive Committee. Therefore, he said: "The National Council has assigned me" or "called me" or "invited me". This is an explicit expression of the extremist tendency to turn the Palestinian system into a presidential system and to reformulate the national relations, which are supposed to be based on the principle of partnership and national consensus, to a presidential system governed by decrees, such as the decrees of restructuring the Executive Committee circles. The National Council has charged the Executive Committee, not the president of the PA nor the Head of State of Palestine. So says the final statement. Thus, these paragraphs of the speech came to present the Palestinian system in another way, and it turns out that the battle for reforming the situation in the Palestinian institution is a difficult and complex battle, and it is a major approach to correcting the imbalance in national relations.

• He went too far in condemning what he called terrorism. Without distinguishing between the real terrorism practiced by terrorist organizations, or the systematic terrorism practiced by the occupying forces and the settlers, and between the right of peoples to resist occupation and defend their freedoms and the sovereignty of their lands and national dignity. His speech on this , seemed to be as a condemnation to the Palestinian resistance with its glorious history, its present and its honorable steadfastness, and the future that carries with it difficult duties and tasks that undoubtedly require endless sacrifices. He should have referred to Israel's aggressive wars, to distinguish between Israeli terrorism and Palestinian national resistance. But to limit the resistance to the "peaceful" popular resistance only (which we have not yet been given a definition of and a model for), is a restriction for the national issue, such as the situation of limitation which considers the bilateral negotiations as a sole political option.

• He instigated the dispute with Hamas before the international community, although it is an internal national issue that is dealt with in the framework of the national dialogues, sponsored by Cairo. Hence, the threat to Hamas (in particular) and to Gaza Strip (in general), is misplaced and difficult for anyone to defend. As the core issue is the issue of the conflict with the Israeli occupation that no other issue, is equivalent to it, no matter how complex and provocative it is, to the general national situation. There are understandings and agreements that have been reached in more than one station, so the transfer of the issue to the UN General Assembly forum is a "violation to the rules of the game".

The issue that deserved the most attention, is the return of the speech to adopt the "vision of the president" as a solution. The "vision", which was announced in the Security Council on 20/2/2018, and reaffirmed at the opening session of the National Council on 30/4/2018, which was overstepped by the final statement of the Council and called, instead, to an international conference with binding resolutions, and a specific time limit, in accordance with resolutions of international legitimacy and the sponsorship of the five permanent members of the Security Council. While the “vision” restores the Oslo Accords and the so-called the negotiations of the permanent solution, and carries a series of pre-concessions, that touch the borders of the fourth of June, the issue of refugees , the right of return, the sovereign foundations of the Palestinian state and other things.

This "vision" is once again a coup against the decisions of the Central Council (15/1/2018) and the National Council (30/4/2018) and an expression of a policy that does not care about the Palestinian national establishment or its decisions or national consensus. The decisions of the Central and National Councils (which some loyal journalists insist on that they are mere recommendations to the President and not to the Executive Committee) have been turned in the speech into a material of bargaining. So that the speech appeared as a bet on the possibility of the retraction of Trump from the «deal of the century», although Saeb Erekat, secretary of the Executive Committee does not hesitate to recognize that 70% of the deal has been implemented (Jerusalem, settlement, right of return, refugee definition, besieging UNRWA, halting the funding of the PA, considering PLO as a terrorist group, closing the PLO office in Washington and so on and so forth). The speech also bets on Netanyahu's retreat from his steps, which are practical and field steps that will create settlements facts , deepen the siege of Jerusalem and expand the process of Judaization and obliteration of its Arab and Palestinian features, such as the increase of the Jewish population, the destruction of its’ national economy, the destruction of Palestinian society components and preparing through the practical steps for a new reality for Al-Aqsa Mosque, based on the temporal and spatial sharing, similar to the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.

Thus, the description of the speech as it elevated to a higher level, when placing Americans and Israelis before the "commitment versus commitment" equation, is only a falsification of the truth. As neither Washington is committed to the understandings with the Palestinian Authority, nor does Netanyahu abide by the Oslo Accords and the Paris Protocol. Only the Palestinian official leadership, is the sole obligor in this field. And it is still committed to the Oslo Accords, and sees them as its way to the solution, which explains its insistence on disrupting the decisions to reconsider the relationship with Israel.

Statements close to the presidency of the PA and members of the Executive Committee revealed that the New York speech will be the basis and guide for the work of the Central Council at its next session, expected to be held between 20-25 / 10/2018, and some went further by saying that the Central Council will charge the Executive Committee to develop a plan for the implementation of the decisions of the Central and National Councils.

What clearly means a new return to the vicious circle. As the Executive Committee has referred these decisions more than once, before and after the National Council, then to committees to develop plans and mechanisms for their implementation. The most recent was the working paper submitted to the last Central Council (Session 29) which was approved and referred to the Executive Committee for its implementation. However, the president of the PA, in his closing statement, considered what was agreed upon as mere recommendations, calling on the members of the Council to think about what can be done in the future, especially after his return from the United Nations.

Which clearly indicates that standing at the "vision of the president" is only an exposed game to stay in square one. That is, the remnants of Oslo is the strategy adopted by the official leadership, and the bets on illusion are still the basis, and the situation is like a painting for a group of losers stand on the banks of incompetence. Such a situation does not help at all to strengthen the national situation and does not provide the necessary conditions to face the “deal of the century “ with effective steps.

Moatasem Hamadeh is a member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by: Rasha Abo Allan
Revised by: Ibrahim Motlaq

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