By: Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.
Over the past months, fierce media attacks were carried out by several Fatah and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leaders, and also by Palestinian Authority (PA) officials, against the lull in Gaza Strip (GS) and against Hamas. Those who are aware of these campaigns may think as if these leaders (with such stormy phrases) have just returned from the Battle of al-Karamah (1968) or their heroic steadfastness in Beirut (1982)!!
Fatah Spokesperson, Usamah al-Qawasmi said that the truce is a literal implementation of the Israeli plan to destroy the Palestine issue. He describes Hamas’s talk about a truce with Israel without paying a political price as “nonsense, lies and misinformation,” adding that “the price is to pass the Zio-American deal of the century, a direct a blow to the PLO, and turn the schism into separation.” Saeb Erekat, PLO chief negotiator and member of Fatah’s Central Committee, said that Hamas’s monopoly of the [truce] agreement with Israel is “a destruction of the Palestinian national project.” As for Majed Fityani, the secretary-general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, he has reached the extent that he would describe Hamas as “the forefront of a satanic alliance led by Israel and the US administration to deal a blow to the national project and preserve the occupation.”
Ahmed Majdalani, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee and a close aide to ‘Abbas (not a Fatah member), stated that the lull has the objective of establishing a political framework that paves the way for a political deal producing a political entity in GS that would replace the two-state solution. He claimed that Hamas has taken an anticipating stance on the deal of the century and not a clear stand. This is despite the fact that he knows that since the first leaks Hamas and its leaders have issued hundreds of official statements against the deal of the century.
Does the worry of Fatah and PLO leaders about a lull between GS and Israel stem from their fear for the national project? or from the political conduct of Hamas towards the deal of the century?! I don’t think so!! Despite the fierce Fatah campaign and the offensive rhetoric against Hamas, it actually aimed at:
1. Blocking Hamas’s way from benefiting from the return marches, which caused severe pressure on Israel, and especially on the Gaza envelope settlements. They feared that if Hamas succeeded in easing the Israeli siege, ‘Abbas’s sanctions and pressures on GS, aiming to subdue Hamas to the PA’s will, would fail.
2. Polishing the image of Mahmud ‘Abbas, who has been heavily criticized among Palestinians, as a result of his exclusionary and snobbish policies towards the Palestinian forces, dominance over the Palestinian national decisions, and deepening the crisis of the Palestinian national project.
3. Justifying the continuation of ‘Abbas sanctions on GS, while preparing to tighten them, despite the widespread and growing Palestinian objections.
In short, the GS Islamic and national forces wanted to reap the fruit of the return marches that they launched, by easing the pressure and siege on GS. Hamas, itself, does not want to hold a truce except within a national consensus, especially among the resistance forces. These forces do not need a certificate of “good behavior” towards the “Deal of the Century” from the PA, for they already reject the Oslo peace process and its entitlements, refuse to recognize Israel, and are paying the high price of facing the occupation, by suffering for years from siege, killing, pursuit and destruction. Those who reject Oslo agreement and its entitlements will certainly reject the deal of the century and its requirements. Whereas, Fatah linked the lull to the reconciliation (that suits it), and linked the reconciliation to subjecting Hamas in GS, which means practically depriving GS from any tactical gains or achievements.
If the leaders of Fatah have real concerns about the “National Project,” and the deal of the century, they have to answer the following questions:
First: Isn’t Fatah the political party that controls “Palestinian legitimacy,” and the one that has brought the PLO into the peace process? Isn’t it behind conceding most of historic Palestine (77% of its territory) to Israel? Isn’t it behind the entrance into the “two-state solution” adventure, by agreeing to be part of the self-rule known as the PA, which has brought us disastrous results? Isn’t it behind the cancellation or disabling of all the provisions of the Palestinian National Charter that are against the occupation and the “Zionist project”?
Fatah has to tell us how is a tactical truce considered a destruction of the Palestinian national project, whereas it considers the Oslo Accords—which conceded most of Palestine to the Zionists—a national accomplishment?! Whose political conduct must be feared more?
Second: There is consensus that there is a real and deep crisis in the Palestinian project, and the core of this crisis is the fact that a Palestinian faction (Fatah) is dominating PLO and “Palestinian legitimacy” for the last fifty years, and does not wish for any real political partnership reflecting the political weight of various factions. It is the one responsible for the sluggishness, feebleness, weakness and inefficiency of the PLO and its institutions, and the one responsible for not convening the provisional leadership framework. It is also the one insisting on convening the Palestinian National Council (PNC) under Israeli occupation, in contravention of the reconciliation agreements of Cairo (2011) and Beirut (2017).
If there is fear of destroying the Palestinian national project, it is due to the one who brought us to the miserable state we are in!!
Third: If Hamas seeking of the truce to lift the GS siege or ease it, is considered a move to “pass the deal of the century” and a “forefront of a satanic alliance led by Israel and the US administration”; then what do we call Fatah’s unilateral handling of the peace process with Israel, and its establishment of an authority whose one of its main tasks is protecting the security of Israel and pursuing resistance forces. Despite the humiliation suffered by the Authority, and the Israeli intensification of Judaization and settlement building, still ‘Abbas the leader of Fatah talks clearly about the “sacred” security coordination, and that he “consistently meets with the head of the Shin Bet—we agree on 99 percent of the issues.” He also reiterated that the PA security forces “maintain daily security coordination with the Israeli defense establishment” and that its personnel “do everything possible so that no Israeli is harmed.”
Is the resistance of the PA and Fatah leadership in WB against the occupation is far stronger than that of Hamas in GS, so that it would protest forging a truce? And who is more in alignment with the Israeli-American “satanic” program, as one of Fatah leaders has put it?
Fourth: If Fatah is eager to implement the reconciliation, confront the deal of the century and prevent the separation of GS from WB, why does it insist on putting impossible conditions that were neither mentioned in the 2011 Reconciliation Agreement nor in any other subsequent agreements among Palestinian factions? Why does it insist on controlling overt and covert (resistance) weapons, implementing Oslo’s entitlements and the “sacred” security coordination in WB? who is the biggest beneficiary of all of this? And why is it so busy subduing Hamas in GS, “demonizing” it, and imposing more sanctions, rather than taking genuine steps to restore vitality to the Palestinian national project.
Finally, Fatah must not worry about its position as the “exclusive agent” of the peace process, however, it must conduct an immediate and comprehensive review of its political performance and the deteriorating situation of the “Palestinian legitimacy” institutions it leads. It should be open to a real partnership with other Palestinian forces, to rebuild the PLO and PA in a way that ends the crisis of the Palestinian national project.