[Published 30 April 2011]
The Palestinian Authority (PA) announcement abdicating to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) the conduct of any future political negotiations with Israel - effectively sinks any further hope of direct negotiations being resumed with Israel over the future sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza.
The PA has consigned itself - and 17 years of on and off negotiations - to the scrapheap of history to join previously failed negotiators and negotiations attempting to achieve a peaceful resolution of the 130 years conflict between Jews and Arabs in former Palestine.
This latest demise was made abundantly clear by PA President Mahmoud Abbas - who told the Palestinian News and Information Agency (WAFA) that political negotiations will become the responsibility of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and not of any unity government that Fatah and Hamas might form as a result of their decision to effect a reconciliation after three years of bitter internecine conflict.
Abbas has sought to limit the tasks of any such newly formed government to concentrate on rebuilding Gaza and preparing for national elections in 2012 - although it is most unlikely that Hamas will ever agree with Abbas on these limited objectives.
Abbas has reportedly confirmed to Australia’s visiting Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd that the PLO is the party responsible for the political issues and therefore negotiations will be conducted by the PLO and not the Palestinian government.
This WAFA report - if accurate - is a stunning turnabout and abdication by the PA of its negotiating role with Israel in favour of the PLO. Israel would be reckless in pursuing its national interest if it were to countenance any such change of direction.
The difficulty inherent in dealing with the PLO was foreseen 17 years ago and led to the birth of a new entity - the PA - under the terms of the Oslo Accords.
The PLO was rejected as the appropriate party to negotiate with Israel - because of its virulent and hate-filled Charter. It was at that time but one of many organizations claiming to represent the Palestinian Arabs. Its main constituent member was Fatah - but its rival Hamas had never been a member of the PLO.
The appointment of a new independent democratically elected body by the West Bank and Gazan Arabs - whilst right in theory - went horribly wrong in practice following Hamas‘s surprise win in the 2006 elections over Fatah. The West Bank and Gaza split into two separately administered Hamas and PA fiefdoms - each vying for the allegiance of those not under the political control of the other - but with disastrous results for both populations over the last four years.
Now as a result of the promised reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas - Abbas finds himself terribly conflicted in four pivotal roles as:
1. President of the PA
2. Chairman of the PLO
3. Chairman of Fatah
4. Putative head of a Fatah-Hamas government of reconciliation.
As President of the PA - Abbas is committed to concluding the “two state solution” accepted both by himself and his predecessor the late Yasser Arafat. Such a a solution - in accordance with the American backed initiative proposed by former US President George Bush in his 2003 Roadmap - still remains unimplemented in any of its details - save for Israel‘s unilateral evacuation from Gaza in 2005.
As Chairman of the PLO - Abbas is obligated to observing the provisions of Article 20 of the PLO Covenant which states:
“The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine and everything that has been based on them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism being a divine religion is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own: they are citizens of the states to which they belong”
As Chairman of Fatah - Abbas is sworn to uphold Article 22 of Fatah’s own separate Charter:
“Opposing any political solution offered as an alternative to demolishing the Zionist occupation in Palestine”
Abbas therefore still continues to head two organizations - the PLO and Fatah - that are hell bent on consigning the six and a quarter million Jews now living in Israel into national oblivion while heading another organisation - the PA - that supposedly seeks to live side by side with the Jews in their own independent state.
Abbas is now talking of heading a Hamas-Fatah government of reconciliation and assigning the conduct of any political negotiations to the PLO - the very antithesis of what was agreed with Israel under the Oslo Accords.
Abbas - while he wears these four hats - is powerless to distance or disassociate himself from various Palestinian Arab factions’ plans designed to eliminate Israel as the designated Jewish National Home for all present - and future - generations of Jews no matter where they might happen to be born or now be residing.
Abbas is certainly frank as to where his loyalties reside.
On April 27, 2009 he told a preliminary conference of the Palestinian Youth Conference at Ramallah:
“A Jewish State, what is that supposed to mean? You can call yourselves as you like, but I don’t accept it and I say so publicly. All I know is that there is the state of Israel, in the borders of 1967, not one centimeter less. Anything else I don’t accept”
Abbas - after this outburst - had no compunction or embarrassment in accepting a large framed map of “Palestine” covering the entire area of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. This picture later appeared on the front page of both daily publications of the Palestinian Authority.
Continuing to deal with Abbas while he wore three hats proved to be more than sufficient a recipe - as anyone could reasonably predict - for utter political disaster.
As he now threatens to don yet a fourth hat - any hopes of achieving the peaceful creation of a new Arab state between Israel, Jordan and Egypt for the first time ever in recorded history has become a pure figment of the imagination for those who still think it can ever occur.
The sooner this reality is faced and alternative solutions are explored - such as negotiations between Israel and Jordan - the more chance there is of averting another conflict of massive proportions between Arabs and Jews.