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What is Behind the Scenes Between Ramallah and Washington?
By: Moatasem Hamadeh
July 14, 2019

What the Israeli newspaper "Israel Today" (9/7/2019) reported about the return of relations between the Palestinian official leadership and the American administration through the "security coordination" channel between the Palestinian Authority intelligence service and the American intelligence service, is a matter of serious concern and deserves close attention and follow-up. The newspaper said that the official leadership reviewed its position on the boycott of Trump, in response to the participation of some Arab regimes in the Bahrain workshop and their "waiving the Palestinian cause" and under the impact of the financial blockade, which threatens the PA of collapse.

This was preceded by a talk by Jared Kouchner, Trump's emissary to the region, and the godfather of the Bahrain workshop and the Trump-Netanyahu deal, in which he quoted good words about President Mahmoud Abbas, said by President Trump.

This also was preceded by a lengthy interview by the Palestinian newspaper "Al-Ayyam" issued in Ramallah on (July 8th, 2019) with Jason Greenblatt, Kouchner's aide, in which he called on the official leadership to return to negotiations, as the way to reach "peace" with Israel, stressing (in a meaningful message) that without the Palestinians' participation in negotiations, Trump's administration would not succeed in "making peace" in the region.

Greenblatt also encouraged the Palestinian side to end its boycott of the US administration and that ending the boycott would be met by the United States by reopening the PLO Commission in Washington and resuming financial aid to the PA. He also hinted that the Trump team would expand its political activity in the region, in order to include Palestinian businessmen, journalists and activists, and other Arabs, on the pretext of continuing to consult about the outcome of the Bahrain workshop and about the projects needed by the Palestinians. As for the political aspect of the "deal," Greenblatt said that he "has nothing new," that is, no retreat from the field steps that have begun on 6/12/2017 with the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel.

What is to worry about in all this, and why not to include this in the mere media war, whose goal is to cause confusion in the national row and on the national issue? More than one reason for that:

• The lack of transparency in the political performance of the official Palestinian leadership, and its marginalization of national institutions in favor of "political kitchen" and the policy of exclusivity and singling. Even the Executive Committee of the PLO is meeting as a "consultative body" rather than as a political leadership, and its statements do not reflect the "consultations" and information taking place in its meetings, and its statements are worthless because it doesn't have the power to act, decide and implement.

• That the official leadership has always made us accustomed to its political coups on the positions of national consensus. As after the Central Council session on 15/1/2018, which took a series of decisions, including the abortion of the Oslo and the liberation from their obligations and entitlements, the official leadership singled the national decision before the UN Security Council on 20/2/2018, by the launch of the so-called «vision of the President» to resume negotiations under the Oslo ceiling, along with the Israeli side, in complete contradiction to the decisions of the "Central Council", whose ink hadn't dried up at that time.

• That the Palestinian leadership is still disrupting the decisions of the Central and National Councils, and is still adhering to the Oslo Accords and their entitlements. During the recent meeting between President Abbas and the press, he stressed on that, by admitting that the commitment has become unilaterally, after Israel has blown all agreements with the Palestinian Authority.

• That the Palestinian leadership is still confirming its commitment to security coordination with the occupation authorities (through which talks are held between the two sides in all bilateral issues in the presence of the Palestinian liaison officer, Hussein Al-sheikh and the ministers concerned) and to security coordination with the United States. This coordination is the channel, by which the Palestinian leadership is still maintaining the silent relations with the American side, despite hundreds of statements that confirm the boycott of the US administration, and stress that there is no return of this boycott until after the retraction of the US administration from its decision on Jerusalem (!).

• That the interview of "Al-Ayyam" with Greenblatt took place a few days after he participated in the opening of the new Judaization tunnel in Jerusalem along with American Ambassador David Friedman, without mentioning the incident, as if the interview wanted to avoid "thorny" issues.

• Last but not least, enough time has passed over what was stated in "Israel Today", without any denial from the PA and official leadership to what was stated therein.

That Kouchner recognizes that the Palestinian absence foiled an important aspect of the workshop of Bahrain, is recognition of the strength of the Palestinian card.

In addition, when Greenblatt asserts that the solution will only be through negotiations involving the Palestinian side, this is also a strong recognition of the Palestinian card. Also when Greenblatt calls on the Palestinians to end their boycott of the US administration and its willingness to overstep its embassy in Jerusalem in favor of direct relations between Ramallah and Washington, this is also a strong recognition of the Palestinian card. Anyway, the Palestinian card wasn't essentially in need of recognition by Kouchner, Greenblatt and others of the importance and strength of the Palestinian cause.

What is worrying, is that the official Palestinian policy, instead of relying on the strength of the card and the cause and the steadfastness of the Palestinian popular steadfastness, and taking steps forward in fortifying the Palestinian position and its consolidation through procedures, decisions and practical field policies, that are comprehensively agreed upon and have formed a solid foundation for the unity of the Palestinian position in the Bahrain workshop, it deliberately depletes this power, this card, and the popular struggles, with regressive positions, trying to regain the failed past in its bet on the adoption of the negotiation option as a single way, with improving the formality of the negotiations without prejudice to their foundations, reference and mechanisms, and ensuring their outputs and outcomes.

Therefore, depending on the prevailing atmosphere in the Palestinian situation and under the rule of the policy of inaction, and the policy of betting on failed promises, comes what was revealed by “Israel Today” to give cause for concern.

We are still waiting for the truth.

And its source is the official Palestinian leadership.

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

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