Abbas’s New Gambit
When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas decided to go to the United Nations to request the admission of
Abbas claims to be serious this time. Despite all U.S attempts at intimidation (for example, by threatening to withhold funds), and despite the intensifying of Israeli tactics (including the further arming of illegal Jewish settlers to combat possible Palestinian mobilization in the
“We are going to the Security Council. We need to have full membership in the United Nations…we need a state, and we need a seat at the UN,” Abbas told Palestinians in a televised speech on September 16.
For months, Palestinian intellectuals, historians, legal experts, and academicians warned against Abbas’s haphazard move. Some argued that if Abbas’s UN adventure was a tactical maneuver, its legal repercussions were too grave a price to pay for little or no return. If Palestine replaces the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—currently recognized by the UN as the sole representative of the Palestinian people—then Palestinians risk losing the only unifying body they have in common (its replacement representing only two million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank).
“Most damaging is that this initiative changes our ability as a people to represent the totality of our inalienable rights,” said Abdel Razzaq Takriti, activist and political historian at
The PLO, which for decades served as a bulwark of the Palestinian national struggle, continues to exist, but only in theory. The Palestinian Authority, founded in 1994 as a temporary authority to oversee a Palestinian transition to statehood, has slowly hijacked and undercut PLO institutions. More, the PA has neither legitimacy nor credibility. Whatever remained of the latter was lost during the Israeli war on
As for its lack of legitimacy, the matter requires no leaked documents. In fact, Fatah’s refusal to concede to the 2006 election results led to the circumstances that exasperated a civil war in
All of this raises an urgent question: how can an authority that lacks legal legitimacy as a representative of the Palestinian people take on a role that could change the course of the entire Palestinian national project?
A leaked legal opinion by
This iniquitous situation would have continued were it not for the Arab Spring, which began demolishing the status quo governing Arab countries. Abbas’s corrupt regime was also a member of the ailing Arab political apparatus. Its existence, like others, was propped up by
More, the “the PA feels abandoned by the U.S which assigned it the role of collaborator with the Israeli occupation and feels frozen in a ‘peace process’ that does not seek an end goal.” According to Joseph Massad in Al Jazeera, “PA politicians opted for the UN vote to force the hand of the Americans and the Israelis, in the hope that a positive vote will grant the PA more political power and leverage to maximize its domination of the
The reasons behind the PA bid for statehood range from tactical politics (involving
“It is evident that Palestine needs newly-elected leadership through an inclusive democratic process encompassing all Palestinians, not just those in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” wrote leading Palestinian historian Salman Abu Sitta in the Middle East Monitor (July 10, 2011). This, in fact, should be the task at hand, not wasting time and energy pursing political gambits, which, at best, will only yield symbolic victories.
Indeed, the Palestinian people are fed up with symbolic victories. They may have guaranteed Abbas and his men all the trappings of power, but they have failed to reclaim even one inch of occupied
Ramzy Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: