Middle East Monitor / December 31, 2021
Many Palestinian politicians including those from the Fatah – the largest faction in the multi-party Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) – have criticized the recently-held meeting between Mahmoud Abbas, the President of Palestine, and Israeli Defence Minister, Benny Gantz.
Ironically, the discord between the leaders has appeared within Fatah, on the eve of its 57th foundation day, which is being celebrated on Saturday, Anadolu News Agency reports.
In an exclusive interview with the Anadolu Agency, the leader of Fatah, Naser al-Qudwa described this meeting as a further disrespect to the national identity of Palestinians and a big political mistake.
“This must not happen, particularly at this critical time; meanwhile, our people are resisting the settler colonialism, on the eve of the armed revolution beginning anniversary,” he said.
Abbas visited the home of Gantz in Rosh Haayin in central Israel on Wednesday, and held talks on various issues.
Al-Qudwa asked all the factions within the PLO to take a clear stand against the meeting. He said that Abbas, as the head of the Fatah movement has provoked Palestinian streets.
“What I believe that Fatah has been exposed to many attacks and distortion process that changed its nature, and there is a serious need to review. The real efforts must be done to restore this movement as a national liberation movement,” he said.
Internal conflicts within Fatah
Of late, and more so in the run-up to the preparations of 2021 legislative and presidential elections – which were later put off – internal conflicts came to the fore within Fatah.
Al-Qudwa was sacked from the Central Committee of Fatah after he had announced to contest the legislative elections.
“I’m still considering myself as an original part of Fatah and I still believe that there is much work that must be done to save the movement. The political program of it, the inner system, and the financial issues must be rehabilitated to continue the struggle that we began,” he told Anadolu Agency.
Bilal Shobaki, the Palestinian political analyst working at Hebron (Al-Khalil) University, however, said there was nothing strange in the meeting of Abbas with Gantz. He said it was a continuation of the policy of Fatah since the 1980s, demonstrated by the Madrid Conference and Oslo Accord.
“The grass-roots of Fatah have not done anything to correct the stream of their movement, and the correction of the stream is the responsibility of all Palestinians. But there is an additional load on Fatah grass-roots if they are opposing what Abbas is doing. Abbas does not behave only as the top leader of Fatah but also as the President of the Palestinian Authority,” said the academic.
Meeting a continuation
He said the meetings between the Palestinian and Israeli officials have been taking place since the time of Yasser Arafat. He added that Palestinian streets were provoked by the mistrust of any political horizon.
“The street cannot understand these steps now, despite the insistence of some Palestinian leaders that these meetings are political in nature, but the Israeli media maintain that these meetings have an economic security ceiling,” said Shobaki.
According to political analyst, Razi Nabulsi, Fatah, which was known as an armed national liberation movement, is not now in its original form.
“Fatah today has turned into a legitimate source of Palestinian Authority presence. We have a big question here about where is Fatah when its leader visits Gantz at his house,” he said.
“The meeting shows us that the West Bank for Gantz is a security issue and Abbas is the head of this security company; it is not a political meeting at all,” he added.
Nabulsi charged that the Palestinian Authority (PA) controls the West Bank by security means without any serious political legitimacy, either by holding the election or even having a political stream with Hamas.
“Today, no one in Israel is talking about a political stream,” he said.
“In light of what is happening, the leaders of Fatah are controlling the PA institutions and using them for the implementation of the ‘deal of the century’ (proposal by the Trump administration to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict) by their behaviour. It is not necessary to approve its name. There are economic facilities, permits and security coordination without political stream and this is what the deal is aimed at,” he added.