Middle East Monitor / January 20, 2022
This week, the Fatah movement confirmed its ongoing dissociation from the people of Palestine and their occupied land when it “unanimously reasserted its confidence in President Mahmoud Abbas” in all his roles. Abbas is the head of Fatah, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the so-called President of the Palestinian Authority, the latter without a legitimate mandate.
Fatah’s delusions are a far cry from ordinary Palestinians calling upon Abbas to step down in the aftermath of the extrajudicial killing of activist Nizar Banat by the PA’s security services last year. Unfortunately, Abbas has enough allies able to drown Palestinian voices politically. It is not that Palestinians do not have a voice, but the international community has already defined Palestine through the hypothetical two-state compromise with the PLO as the people’s “sole representative”; Israel defines Palestine through elimination; and Abbas has been supportive of both stances.
So what, exactly, is Fatah supporting when it “unanimously” proclaims confidence in its leader? His latest steps, as contradictory as ever, spell out an even greater capitulation to Israel. Since Banat’s killing, when Palestinians asserted their dissent and opposition to Abbas openly, he has realized that he stands no chance against the people. In typical authoritarian fashion, therefore, he turned to Israel and the US for help. That was, sadly, entirely in character and a logical move, given that the PA has lost the trust of Palestinians completely. Abbas’s meetings with Israel’s Defence Minister Benny Gantz have allowed the PA to cling to what remains of its power. The only reason that the gimmicky talks succeeded was because the Palestinians have been subjected to decades of deprivation. In the same manner that humanitarian aid takes priority in the absence of political rights, the Palestinian leadership gets away with spinning symbolic concessions as political agreements.
Abbas made headline news last year by threatening Israel with a deadline to end the military occupation within a year. More concerning, though, was his capitulation to the occupation state by deciding to stop the collection of evidence about Israel’s war crimes to submit to the International Criminal Court. This is no surprise, even though it reeks of exploitation of the Palestinian people. Not only is Abbas against the Palestinian people having political rights, but he is also opposed to the slightest, albeit belated, chance of them seeing justice in respect of the very obvious war crimes committed against them. Abbas has done this in return for symbolic concessions from Gantz and a hostile Israeli government that excels in ridiculing the Palestinian leadership. The latter appears not to bother Abbas at all as long as he can continue to fill his coffers for which he has established himself as a colonial collaborator accountable to nobody except Israel, the US and the international community.
Fatah has limited the scope of defining Palestine through its ludicrous, although strategic, endorsement of Abbas. Of course the movement has full confidence that Abbas will continue to help Israel to colonize Palestine, of that there is no doubt, not even among the Palestinian people. That is why he is there, and why the PA and its security services were created by Oslo in the first place. However, Palestine is much more than Abbas. It is a land with tenacious people who are not going anywhere and will continue to struggle for their legitimate rights. They do not deserve a leader like Abbas, but they have to live with his shabby legacy. A major part of the Palestinian struggle must now entail wresting away the definition of Palestine as a target for elimination. That will provide the Palestinians with a unanimous, collective effort against Abbas and Fatah hypocrisy.
Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America