The PA views Palestine through the lens of collaboration and Israel’s security

PNA President Mahmoud Abbas (Arab News)

Ramona Wadi

Middle East Monitor  /  January 25, 2022

The Palestinian Authority continues to attract negative publicity and erode its own standing with the Palestinian people. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s recent meetings with Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz reaped nothing but a trickle of symbolic concessions for the Palestinian people. As always, this was against a backdrop of increasing state and settler violence against them. What the PA called a political breakthrough is nothing but a smokescreen for the fact that Gantz and Abbas reiterated their commitment to security coordination with the occupation state, which is what sustains the PA and its president’s position.

Last Sunday, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Shaikh. “… [W]e discussed several political and bilateral issues,” the Times of Israel reported Al-Shaikh as saying. “I highlighted the need for a political horizon between the two parties based on international law.”

Given that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has ruled out any negotiations with the PA, and Lapid has also ruled out altering the Israeli government’s coalition agreements when he replaces Bennett as prime minister in 2023, the latest meeting is probably just another step towards maintaining the PA’s position. In other words, Al-Shaikh’s statement is unfounded jargon, even based on the PA’s own actions which support Israel’s violations of international law. When did the PA ever take a stance and not retract it later, as it dances to the tune of the political actors protecting its institutions?

The Jerusalem Post quoted a Western diplomat describing Al-Shaikh as “the type of Palestinian the Israelis and Americans can do business with.” That alone should ring alarm bells among the people of occupied Palestine. At the moment, the PA has both the US and Israel rooting for its continued existence, because it provides strategic benefits for Israeli settler-colonialism. Al-Shaikh’s meeting with Lapid suggests an extension of the status quo for the PA, and possibly a more prominent role for him within the PA, even as other Palestinian factions are being marginalized further.

With Palestinians extremely disillusioned with the PA’s corruption and compliance with Israel — the state occupying their land and oppressing them, remember — Abbas has no other option left but to cling to the occupation state and the US. The alternative of allowing the people a political voice and democratic choice is simply not on the PA’s agenda. On the contrary, security coordination — aka collaboration — with the occupiers will remain a priority. It is not in the PA’s interests for the marginalized political factions to stand a chance of winning the Palestinian people’s collective support. Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine have been prime targets in the PA’s crackdown against dissent. This tells us even more about the PA’s dismal standing among Palestinians and how it keeps failing to garner popular support, particularly after its security services murdered Palestinian activist Nizar Banat last year.

Al-Shaikh’s meeting with Lapid is further proof of the PA’s dissociation from Palestine. It sets the scene for the next step in the theft of the land, which will see the PA maintain futile relations with Israel while it pretends to embark upon diplomatic initiatives. The Ramallah-based authority should issue a statement making it clear that under the guise of two-state diplomacy and international law, it now views the Palestinian issue through the lens of collaboration with Israel, and defines occupied Palestine as a security coordination project to keep the occupation safe and itself in power.

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