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Will Fayyad Reform What Oslo Has Ruined?
By: Moatasem Hamada
July 14, 2018

The meeting of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with the former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has sparked a flood of comments and possibilities, including Fayyad's return to the premiership as a successor to Dr. Rami Al-Hamadallah. It is known that Fayyad took over, first, the Ministry of Finance in the time of the late president Arafat, at the direct request of the European Union, the donor countries, especially the United States and the International Monetary Fund, which Fayyad was one of its pillars, and he left his job in favor of taking over the Ministry of Finance in the PA. This main task of was to reduce the financial powers of President Arafat and to restructure and modernize the Ministry of Finance, so as to strengthen the donor oversight on the spending directions and mechanisms in the PA, after President Arafat had absolute powers in this sensitive matter in managing the public affairs and building the Palestinian political entity under the framework of an Oslo Accords and their limitations and obligations.

With Fayyad, the PA's budget rose, with more donor money pouring in. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) more than once praised the Minister of Finance for his work and his response to external conditions. Fayyad then moved to the premiership in the time of President Abbas, particularly after the Hamas coup on June 14, 2007. He also won a seat in the Palestinian Legislative Council in early 2006 elections.

Fayyad was not an ordinary prime minister; indeed, he was a man of vision, although this vision was built under the Oslo roof and did not exceed it, and thus did not constitute a national consensus among the Palestinian factions in the PLO. As Fayyad proposed his project "to build the institutions of the Palestinian State under the occupation" based on what he called "the development of the work of the official institution", "building the national economy by encouraging the private sector" and last but not least resolving the issues of permanent solution with the occupation through negotiations, by President Abbas and the "inevitable outcome" of the negotiations will be the establishment of the Palestinian State, winning the independence, ending the occupation, and resolving the settlement issues.

For seven years, Fayyad led his project, which brought him to a stalemate. As the Oslo constraints were basically placed in the service of the occupying state, and to prevent the process of Palestinian national liberation from achieving its objectives.

If the institutions were built as towering buildings, with luxury furniture that responds to the consumerism of bureaucratic authority, but this doesn't achieve independence or an end for the occupation. They provide a false sense of the existence of a "state", which in fact has not exceeded its limits and powers, just a self-management on the population (not absolutely) with the population registry remaining with the occupation authorities, not with the PA government.

As for building the Palestinian economy, on the road of freedom from the constraints of the Paris Protocol, the experience has shown that the way to make the national economy, is by liberating from the dependency on the Israeli economy, i.e. to emerge from the belly of the Israeli economy, which has swallowed all sections of the Palestinian economy and turned it into an integral part of Israel's economy, foremost of which is the adoption of the Israeli shekel as the currency of circulation and the engagement in the Israeli customs system. The theory that the condition of a national economy, is to emerge from the Israeli customs system, and build the public sector in various fields (such as infrastructure and basic services, which encourages the private sector to "invest" its money in building the national economy) has been proven. Without this, the private sector does not have the courage to contribute to the national economy, while the financial and tax decision and the decision to allow the import and export are in the hands of the occupation authorities, and as long as the currency of occupation is circulated, it is only which controls its prices, and as long as the banking sector is under the Israeli money authority, it doesn't dare to violate its instructions.

The negotiations, however, have been assured by the bitter experience that they are futile, and do not constitute a platform for independence.

The sin of Fayyad is that he tried to paint a path of independence, without drawing at the same time a strategy to get out of Oslo, so he failed.

There wouldn't be a talk about the possibility of Fayyad's assumption of the post of PM once again, if the political atmosphere was not about talking on the possibility of the departure of the government of Al-hamadallah. It is no longer a secret to talk about the fact that a number of Fatah's "central committee" members don't stop to demand the departure of the government of Al-Hamadallah and the formation of a new government, while accusing him of failure and weakness of the initiative. They hold him responsible for reducing the power of the PA in favor of extending the power of the civil administration of the occupation. Perhaps the objection of a number of members of the Fatah leadership to nominate Al-Hamadallah as a member of the new Executive Committee in the last National Council and settle the matter by calling it a member of the Central Council is a clear indication that Fatah is no longer unified about Al-Hamadallah. And that there are those who publicly call for the departure of him and his government and the formation of a new “strong” government with competence to meet the entertainment of the “deal of the century” and its challenges, and the entertainment of the next phase, including the rearrangement of the internal home, as well as the exclusion of Al-hamadallah, means excluding him from the list of candidates for the succession of President Abbas if he is forced to leave the political stage.

There is no doubt that the national institution (the Central Council and the National Council) has exceeded in its vision Fayyad's "vision" of winning the independence and exceeded the performance of the Al-Hamadallah government and its commitments, when the Central Council adopted on 5/3/2015 the strategy of disengagement from the Oslo Accords and the Paris Protocol, for the program of resistance in the field and in international forums, including the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. That is the strategy which was reaffirmed at the Central Council's session on 15/1/2018 and in the National council on 30/4/2018.

This is the national strategy that President Abbas continues to ignore, in the performance of his "political kitchen", adhering to his vision of 20/2/2018, i.e. adhering to the remnants of Oslo and the negotiations of the permanent solution, as an alternative strategy to Oslo.

Thus, neither the problem nor its solution lie in the departure of Al-Hamadallah or in the solutions of Salam Fayyad instead. The issue is not a matter of individuals (with our appreciation for the competence and necessity of individuals), but the issue lies in "any political strategy we adopt". Is the strategy of 20/2/2018 (President Abbas's speech at the UN Security Council) and betting on the remnants of Oslo? Or the exit strategy from Oslo, towards ending the division, restoring the internal unity, disengaging from the Oslo Accords and the Paris Protocol and their commitments? And to reconsider the PLO institutions, to strengthen the representative role of the organization, adopt the program of resistance in the field and in international forums and to prepare the conditions for the reconstruction of the institutions by the general presidential and legislative elections, in both the Legislative and National councils according to the system of full proportional representation and provide and mobilize the elements of power, which are various, to confront the entitlements and challenges of the “deal of the century”, and the colonial settlement policies of Netanyahu.

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

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