Palestinian people should own their struggle, away from the politicians

Mansour Abbas, Israeli Arab member of the United Arab List party (Ahmad Gharabli - AFP)

Ramona Wadi

Middle East Monitor  /  December 23, 2021

Sometimes, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) finds good reason to issue stark condemnations. Recent comments by Knesset Member Mansour Abbas, who is part of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition government, have raised the ire of Palestinian officials. Abbas is no stranger to spouting colonial rhetoric since taking up his new role. As Palestinians in Gaza were ruminating about the damage caused by the Israeli bombardment in May, Abbas failed to outrightly condemn the aggression. “If I have the opportunity to advance the peace, I will do so,” he said, vaguely.

Perhaps that statement should be read within the context of his recent shocking spouting of Zionist rhetoric. “The State of Israel was born as a Jewish state. It is the decision of the people and the question is not about the identity of the state. It was born this way and will remain so.”

The PLO’s executive committee fired back: “These statements do not express the opinion of our Palestinian people, wherever they are, regarding the racist Nationality Law and the Jewishness of the state, which completely contradicts with our right to self-determination, detract from the rights of our people inside the 1948 lands and constitute a direct threat to them, while it reinforces the Zionist policy of racism in dealing with them and with their rights in their homeland.”

Unfortunately, while the PLO statement is right on cue, its diplomacy has endangered the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle in ways which make it hard to single out Mansour Abbas’ statement as the only harmful position from Palestinian politicians.

Yasser Arafat’s declaration of independence recognized Israel; this is one example of how diplomacy thwarted the principled position of liberation. The Oslo Accords further mangled the Palestinian people’s anti-colonial struggle by marginalizing core issues such as the Palestinian refugees’ right to return. Not to mention that Israel’s colonial project has been offered supreme protection by the UN since its inception, and no resolution or policy has ever countered the historical violence inflicted upon Palestinians.

The situation is now that inside Israel, a politician whose affinity should be towards Palestine is openly advocating for Palestinians to accept not only colonialism but apartheid. Meanwhile, in the occupied Palestinian territories, pragmatism has resulted in tacit acquiescence to Zionist colonization. The Palestinian Authority has long sold out to Zionism – there would have been no point in the PA if not to do the complicity bidding of Israel and the international community. Palestinian factions, meanwhile, are marginalized to the point that the ideology holds more prominence than action. In Gaza, Hamas has had to contend with different identities since entering the political sphere and its acceptance of the two-state paradigm stands in contrast to its rhetoric of liberation.

Mansour Abbas has the potential to do much damage to Palestinians from inside Israel. The PA, on the other hand, has proved it prefers to latch on to power. So where, in this entire cacophony that only serves Israel, can Palestinians find a statement that is principled? As the PLO rightly said, the statement does not express the Palestinian people’s sentiment, but what of the politicians gambling away with Palestinians’ lives?

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