Middle East Monitor / October 16, 2019
It was only a matter of time before the Palestinian Authority would renege on its word and accept the deducted tax revenues from the Israeli government. After all, the PA is primarily concerned with prolonging its existence, even as it keeps losing any semblance of political influence.
Financial constraints imposed mostly by Israel and the US have contributed to the PA’s declining authority, so much so that its weak attempt months ago to frame its decision as a stance borne out of resistance has backfired spectacularly. The reality is that the PA taints Palestinian resistance.
“Israel’s withholding of the Palestinian clearance tax revenues is not over yet and we insist on getting all our money back from Israel,” said PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh recently. According to reports in Israeli media, Israel has agreed to review the Paris Protocol Agreement, a move described by the PA’s civil affairs minister Hussein Al-Sheikh as “a tremendous achievement for the Palestinian people.”
The Palestinian people, however, have suffered long enough to take such words at face value without attributing any illusions of triumph. Israeli colonialism has rendered the Palestinian economy dependent on and subjugated to the occupation state. The least that PA officials can do is to work with Palestinians to build prospects from within, as opposed to continuous, belated responses to Israel’s actions.
However, the recent developments have shown that the PA is more likely to continue working alongside Israel, to the detriment of the Palestinian people. In reversing its decision and accepting the deducted revenues, the PA needed a change of rhetoric. Whereas in earlier months it hailed Palestinian prisoners and their families, attempting to portray itself as a political entity that approved, rather than abandoned, legitimate resistance, Shtayyeh is now asking the prisoners and their families to take the back seat and wait for an outcome that is not guaranteed.
While the scheme that pays stipends to Palestinian prisoners and their families has come under harsh criticism from Israel, it is also worth noting how the PA exploits its own programme and the Palestinians who are allocated the regular payments. The PA’s repudiation of resistance remains paramount; it maintains its financial commitment as an alleged link between leadership and the people. It is also the least that the PA can do in terms of maintaining its rhetorical commitment to a “free Palestine” while ensuring that freedom remains an illusion for the Palestinian people.
The question is not whether the PA will continue paying the stipends, but on what grounds does it deem it permissible to ask Palestinians to participate in its failed agenda. Israel violated the Paris Protocol when it withheld the full amount payable to the PA. Yet, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas and his entourage of ministers have not exhibited any political resolve towards Palestinians. Just as it did on other occasions, such as Khan Al-Ahmar, for example, Palestinians are only relevant to the PA’s rhetoric until it has no option but to capitulate to what Israel envisaged in the first place. The earlier statements have now proven to be hollow, and the PA, as always, remains dictated by necessity, which it transfers onto the Palestinian people.
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