[Published 23 April 2014]
Easter 2014 will be remembered as the time when PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas tried to resurrect the Palestinian Authority (PA) that he himself had declared dead and buried on 3 January 2013.
Adopting US Secretary of State Kerry’s terminology - “Poof - that was the day that signalled the end of the Oslo Accords”
The demise of the PA had been announced by John Whitbeck - an international lawyer who served as a legal advisor to the Palestinian team negotiating with Israel - in an article published on 10 January 2013 in Al Jazeera English and also the Huffington Post:
“On January 3 Mahmoud Abbas, acting in his capacities as President of the State of Palestine and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, signed “Decree No. 1 for the year 2013.” While he did so with minimal ceremony or fanfare, and while the change formalized by this decree should surprise no one after the UN General Assembly’s overwhelming vote on November 29 to upgrade Palestine’s status at the United Nations to “observer state,” this change is potentially historic.
By this decree, the Palestinian Authority, created for a five-year interim period pursuant to the Oslo Declaration of Principles signed on the White House lawn in September 1993, has been absorbed and replaced by the State of Palestine, proclaimed in November 1988, recognized diplomatically by 131 of the 193 UN member states and supported in the recent General Assembly vote by an additional 28 states which have not yet formally recognized it diplomatically.
After citing the November 29 General Assembly Resolution, Article 1 of the decree states: “Official documents, seals, signs and letterheads of the Palestinian National Authority official and national institutions shall be amended by replacing the name ‘Palestinian National Authority’ whenever it appears by the name ‘State of Palestine’ and by adopting the emblem of the State of Palestine.” Concluding Article 4 states: “All competent authorities, each in their respective area, shall implement this Decree starting from its date.”
Did none of the thousands of US State Department and Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs minions read Whitbeck’s article and realise its significance?
Surely those who did should have been concerned at Whitbeck’s further following comments:
“Perhaps due, at least in part, to the low-key manner in which this change has been effected, it has attracted remarkably little attention from the international media or reaction from other governments, even the Israeli and American governments. This is not necessarily disappointing, since passive acceptance is clearly preferable to furious rejection.
The relatively few and brief media reports of the change have tended to characterize it as “symbolic.” It could—and should—be much more than that. If the Palestinian leadership plays its cards wisely, it could—and should—represent a turning point toward a better future.
In his correspondence, Yasser Arafat used to list all three of his titles under his signature—President of the State of Palestine, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian Authority (in that order of precedence). It is both legally and politically noteworthy that, in signing this decree, Mahmoud Abbas has listed only the first two titles.
The Trojan horse called the “Palestinian Authority” in accordance with the Oslo interim agreements and the “Palestinian National Authority” by Palestinians has served its purpose by introducing the institutions of the State of Palestine on the soil of Palestine and has now ceased to exist.”
Abbas had dissolved the Palestinian Authority with the stroke of a pen - creating a situation where further negotiations under the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap were nugatory.
America and Israel - at their peril - apparently preferred to negotiate with ghosts and turn a blind eye to this extremely significant development.
Now 15 months down the track - with negotiations begun in July 2013 now on their last legs - news that Abbas is contemplating dismantling the PA for a second time has brought forth the following response from State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki:
“Of course [the PA disbanding] will have serious consequences. Obviously this is not in the interest of the Palestinian people,and all that has been achieved will be lost.”
“The US has made tremendous efforts to build Palestinian institutions in the PA, and so has the international community, The move will seriously harm the US-PA relationship, including in terms of financial aid.”
Ignoring Abbas’s 2013 decree has certainly cost the US dearly - about US $500 million in financial aid reportedly paid to an organization over the last 15 months that had ceased to exist.
Has America ever suffered a more blatant financial scam of such massive proportions?
Suddenly the State Department is now also concerned about “the interest of the Palestinian people” after having connived to allow Abbas to lead them down a negotiating blind alley with no possible light at the end of the tunnel following the PA demise.
Israel also needs to explain its role in perpetuating the fiction of the PA’s existence for the last nine months
Kerry’s desperate efforts to keep these Mickey Mouse negotiations alive has been exposed by Abbas’s last ditch threat to dismantle the non-existent PA.
Kerry needs to answer how any signed agreement could ever be achieved with a party whose existence Abbas can turn on and off like a tap.
Abbas’s pathetic bluff and bluster should for once be exposed and rejected by America and Israel.