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The Central Council… Finally
By: Moatasem Hamadeh
January 20, 2018

Finally, the Central Council of the PLO will convene in Ramallah on January 14 and 15, 2018, and on its agenda there is the issue of Jerusalem, what preceded it, and the decisive and dangerous developments that followed it at the national level.

The last session of the Central Council was held on March 5, 2015, which means that we need a few more days to celebrate its third anniversary of convention. However, its decisions, at its last session, remained a dead letter, especially those relating to the so-called "defining the relationship with Israel", which is one of the main topics, to be re-presented on the agenda of the current session, in an attempt to suggest that the official Palestinian leadership had resolved, in response to Trump's decision, and Netanyahu's decisions on Jerusalem, settlements and the overall situations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and decided to move to an alternative political strategy.

In the previous session, the Central Council approved to reconsider the relationship with Israel and decided, inter alia, to stop the security coordination with Israel, disengage from the Israeli economy, launch and protect the popular uprising, and to internationalize the Palestinian national cause and rights, by going to the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Security Council, the International Criminal Court and others, as an alternative to the absurd negotiating process, which formed a political cover to expand the settlement projects, Judaization and looting of the land, and raised the pace of bloody repression in the street against the citizens by the occupation authorities, and in prisons against the captives.

These decisions have been suspended by the PA in the air. Especially that are related to redraw the relationship with Israel, through the cessation of the bilateral negotiations, but even the official Palestinian leadership deliberately acted contrary to these decisions.

The security coordination has been continued and developed to wider levels, including the arrest of youths of the uprising, the surveillance and arrest of activists, and the enactment of a repressive electronic media law, under US pressure to stop what Israel and the US call incitement. The economic dependence on Israel has been also developed through entering into strategic projects with a normalizing goal that would promote the integration of the Palestinian economy with the Israeli economy. The moves towards the international institutions have been stopped, once under the French pressure, under the pretext of not also disrupting the Paris conference (which quickly was forgotten) or under the pretext of not disrupting Trump's move in preparing the political scene, to return to the bilateral negotiations under the sole sponsorship of the United States. The bet on these negotiations, after March 5, 2015, has remained as the official political strategy, adopted by the official Palestinian leadership, whether during Obama's or Trump's term, including when the new president announced about the "Century Deal", which was welcomed by some leaders of Arab states, as well as it was welcomed by the official Palestinian leadership and considered it as a viable framework for resolving the issue according to what it calls the American "two-state solution".

Now, what will the Central Council be producing at its current session?

We believe that in the worst case, no matter how flexible its language, it cannot ignore the March 5, 2015 resolutions, but will certainly adopt them as a part of the Palestinian vision for the next stage.

But we believe that it might go further, such as deciding that the United States is no longer an honest mediator for negotiations, and perhaps deciding to not return to the bilateral negotiations and calling for an alternative "international" framework without specifying this framework. We also expect it to go further in some details about the economic issues and positions that require an Arab and Muslim support in the battle for the defense of Jerusalem.

But the matter, in our assessment, does not stop at the limits of this issue alone, but must it go beyond other issues, such as:

• Dealing with the policy of singling out the decision by the official Palestinian leadership, which has led to the disruption of implementation of decisions of the Central Council on March 5, 2015, keeping them as a dead letter, and turning them into a negotiating paper instead of dealing with them, as the titles of a new political stage, that requires a new strategy, after it has been clearly demonstrated, that Israel is totally unwilling, to reach a solution, through the Oslo process, its obligations and its dire consequences. We believe that if this review is not achieved, so, the Palestinian situation will not have guarantees, that the Palestinian official leadership, will deal with the new decisions in a more serious and bending manner, in which there is a respect for the principle of the national coalition and the principle of partnership in decision, which supposed that its institutional framework to be formed by the Central Council.

• In the same context , dealing with the Executive Committee, which is still disabled, even after December 6, 2017, the date of the announcement of the Trump decision. It also has become a permanent subject of criticism, not only among Palestinian public opinion, but also among the factions, participating in this committee. Moreover, it has become clear that it is an inactive institution, and replaced by a well-known political "kitchen", that has a framework of "close figures", who do not hesitate daily to make political statements, instead of the "leadership", as if they have become its means to leak positions and monitor reactions, or as if they have become the concerned band for promoting for the "leadership" positions and policies.

• Last and not least, making enough time to discuss the "arrangement of the Palestinian home". This means to rebuild Palestinian national unity, both programmatically and institutionally, so that all Palestinian parties will be involved in the comprehensive national framework, and on a participatory basis and a clear programing, in the face of future entitlements.

We believe, as many others, that the entrance to this is the revival of the "Committee for the activation and development of the PLO", which includes the Executive Committee, its President, the Secretaries General (14 factions), the President of the National Council and independent figures.

This framework is concerned in putting the national coalition program, practical mechanisms and the foundations of internal relations within the framework of a participatory national unity.

One of the most dangerous is the continuation of some people to deal with the new developments with the same limited tactical way, and that loyalty to the individual to be over loyalty to the cause and the people rights. Or the non-consideration of some people to what is happening, as a serious development that threatens the entire issue, not only from an American source, or from an Israeli one, but even from Arab sources who are complicit with them, and do not hesitate to accept the so-called US deal, as long as this «deal» guarantees their class interests at the top of their political system.

• As some still do not hide their commitment to the so-called "peace process", ignoring the daily Israeli war against the Palestinian people, in various ways, for known reasons, as if the "peace process" has not been ended, since the Camp David negotiations (July 2, 2000) had reach to an impasse.

• Others "do not see it as a hindrance" for the Central Council, at its current session, to take whatever decisions it wants, and then proposes "to let the President to use his political wisdom to decide the appropriate time and manner to implement these decisions, which means the return to the game of the Central Council on March 5, 2015, and the transformation of national institutions and the results of their work into "tactical papers" in which the "political kitchen" in “Ramallah” runs its political game with the Israelis and Americans.

• Others saw that the Central Council is not authorized to make decisions, and that the most it can do are recommendations to be told to the "leadership" (and not to the Executive Committee after the "leadership" has become the alternative for all).

In any way, we are not the ones who believe that the Central Council session is the end of the way, but it is just a station of struggle that we must go through, along with adhering to the well-known national program: the disengagement from Oslo and their political, security and economic commitments; an uprising in the field against occupation and settlement, and political battles in the international forums, to resolve the Palestinian question, to ensure the rights of the Palestinian people and its legitimate interests in self-determination, return and independence, and the departure of the occupation and settlement, the re-definition of Israel as a rouge state and the deepening of the international isolation of the Trump administration.

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

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