Middle East Monitor / February 7, 2023
The Palestinian Authority continues to drown in its own political contradictions. Last month, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas stated that he was halting security coordination with Israel, purportedly to protect Palestinians after the Israeli army killed nine Palestinian civilians in Jenin. Abbas has been a source of ridicule over his many statements threatening to stop security coordination, or halting cooperation for a brief period and retracting his words later. Israeli media have stated that security coordination is only partially suspended, and that Abbas assured the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Chief William Burns that security coordination would be implemented fully again.
This rigmarole once again pits Abbas against the Palestinian people. He actually needs security coordination with the occupation authorities in order for the PA to survive; his own people simply do not support the internationally-funded echelons in Ramallah. The PA would be unable to quell a collective Palestinian uprising against its rule, were it not for collaboration with Israel. So how long will it take for Abbas to renege on his word about suspending security coordination?
Abbas may be able to hold on to his narrative of withholding security coordination with Israel a little while longer, if only for the sake of providing soundbites for media consumption. However, the US is pressuring the PA to accept a security plan “to regain control of Jenin and Nablus”; and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has asked Abbas to resume coordination with Israel.
The plan’s details, summarized by Axios, would see the PA security forces clamp down on resistance in Jenin and Nablus. A special Palestinian force would be deployed for the sole purpose of countering Palestinian resistance groups. The aim would be for the PA to regain control over the occupied West Bank and provide a return to the status quo of Israel and the PA collaborating to quash any sign of resistance. While the PA expressed reservations about the plan, notably the lack of US impositions on Israel to stop its military incursions and violence, there is a lack of public support for such a scheme.
As the people’s resistance slips away from the control of the Palestinian factions to take a new direction which is not dependent on official positions, the political scene is altering rapidly. With the Palestinian people at the helm, and persisting in retaining their legitimate struggle, the PA runs the risk of losing even more control over the occupied West Bank. The refugee camps, marginalized and mostly unacknowledged in PA and international diplomacy, are the foundations of Palestinian resistance and collective memory. In their haste to obliterate the fact that the Palestinian people are waging an anti-colonial struggle against Israel and the PA’s collaboration, the US and the PA overlooked one major reality for the people of occupied Palestine: the ongoing Nakba. The ethnic cleansing has never really ended, but now, though, the PA is a complicit aggressor in the people’s experience of colonial violence.
The PA is walking a fine line which it cannot sustain and it will most likely sacrifice the Palestinian people for its own survival, for which it still has the two-state compromise to cite and cling to. Without gaining political legitimacy from the Palestinian people, the PA’s dependence on security coordination means that apartheid Israel has full control over the violence inflicted on the Palestinians.
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