By Hasan Afif El-Hasan
The accomplishments of the Palestinian Authority (PA) since the signing of the Oslo Accords agreements can only be described as a national tragedy. Gaza is under Israeli and international crippling blockade; East Jerusalem and big area of the West Bank have been annexed by Israel; the West Bank has become fractured by the growth of settlement blocks; there are hundreds of checkpoints; many Jews-only roads and 'bypass roads' and the separation wall have been built in the West Bank; and the refugees are still denied the right of return.
Leaders of the PA that has failed to create an independent viable state after decades of negotiations described the status quo as “least costly occupation in the world.” The Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman told the Israeli diplomats in his year-end remarks that it was impossible to have a peace agreement [on Israel’s terms] under the present conditions, and the best that could be hoped for would be long-term interim agreement on security and economic matters. Lieberman interim agreement is today’s status quo: Palestinian cooperation to insure security for the settlements in exchange for economic development in the PA area under occupation. Israeli former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the leader of Kadima Party told reporters at a 2006 press conference with US counterpart Condoleezza Rice, “Israel and the Palestinians both understand that the Palestinians’ economy is part of our interest and Israel’s security is part of the Palestinians’ interest.” She also declared in 2007 that her country’s security comes ahead of the establishment of the Palestinian state. Israel’s self-proclaimed lack of “security” overshadows the Palestinians rights. Its position on security arrangements is the end of Palestinian resistance to the occupation of their land. Akiva Elder of Haaretz newspaper wrote in October 2010, “Thanks to Oslo: the Palestinians protect the settlers while looting and the donors are contributing.”
There is intensive cooperation between the PA security forces and Israel at the highest level to meet Israel’s security requirements. The PA security forces protect the settlers from their Palestinian victims and do not intervene to protect the Palestinians from the settler gangs or to prevent the settlers from confiscating Palestinian lands, burning their olive trees and mosques. Dayton repeatedly said the PA security forces are created to curb Palestinian "terror". The Palestinians who continue to resist occupation and refuse to recognize their oppressor are called “terrorists”. The PA President Mahmoud Abbas assured Israel that Israeli occupation would never face any resistance by his security forces. He boasted in the US how his security forces were cooperating with the occupation by instantly tracking down and arresting the Palestinians who stood up to the settlers in the Hebron area. Israeli officials declare openly that they continuously receive close security cooperation from the PA. “We tell them [the PA security forces] where the terrorists are, and they arrest them”, explained IDF Major Avital Leibovich recently.
With no control over borders and no territorial contiguity or economic development, the PA policies created a structural economy of dependency on foreign aid and exporting cheap labor to Israel. The young Palestinians have to work as day laborers in Israel just to put food on their tables, because they couldn’t hope for finding jobs in the local economy. The PA cannot raise revenue outside international aid to provide for public education, healthcare, security, infrastructure and social services. As a condition for receiving the international aid, the PA had to boycott and denounce Hamas, the democratically elected government by the Palestinians in the occupied territories; but the PA had to recognize the state of Israel which is committed to be an apartheid state inside the Green Line, confiscating Palestinian’s lands and the imposition of apartheid in the West Bank; Israel refuses to give the Palestinian refugees the right of return; it holds 11,000 prisoners in its jails and the entire 1.5 million Palestinian population in Gaza as prisoners. Israel is carrying on the systematically ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem and a big area of surrounding West Bank land that it had annexed.
The Western governments that provide the financial aid to the PA do not take meaningful action in support of the Palestinians’ political and human rights. They do not pressure Israel to end the occupation or even to stop the expansion of the settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; and Western governments endorse and participate in Gaza siege that deprives Gaza residents of food and other necessities including materials needed to recover from the Israeli 2009 war which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and destroyed thousands of homes and the Strip infrastructure. The international community is guilty for participating in the present man-made human disaster in Gaza. Sixty percent of Gaza residents are below the UN defined poverty line and more than ten percent of their children suffer from malnutrition. President Barack Obama repeated the Israeli line, saying the blockade was needed to prevent the flow of arms to Hamas.
While the international community [read the US] and Israel continue the siege on Gaza and starve 40% of the Palestinians under occupation to discredit Hamas, they have been emphasizing the economic factor in Ramallah as a way to reward the PA and compensate for its failure to establish a viable Palestinian state. Israel and the international community believe that economic development may create conditions for the Palestinians to tolerate the occupation and support the PA which administers the three disconnected enclaves in the West Bank. But a large sector of the West Bank Palestinians has not felt any improvement in their economic conditions. If anything, it has worsened because of the inflation created by non-productive economy. More important, Israel can bring down the superficial economic recovery and render the state structure building useless at any time if the PA decides not to cooperate with the occupation. Since the West Bank is land-locked territory and Israel controls its eastern border with Jordan, it can impose a destructive blockade comparable to the siege on Gaza.
When Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) election by landslide due to the corruption and incompetence of Fatah-led PA, the US and the EU ostracized and boycotted Hamas-led government, cut off the aid to the Palestinians and Israel arrested most of the democratically elected members of the PLC. The US continued to undermine the government of Hamas by funding the training of rival Fatah fighters to defeat Hamas in its Gaza stronghold in 2007. Washington Post wrote on May 15, 2007 a report titled: “Fatah Troops Enter Gaza with Israeli Assent: Hundreds were trained in Egypt Under US-Backed Program to Counter Hamas.” The US congressional foreign aid bill for 2007 included no economic support for programs in the West Bank and Gaza. The US supports the PA even if its leadership is deemed corrupt as long as it cooperates with Israel which stole their ancestral lands, uses all means to kill, strangulate and assault them.
Money pledged by the donor countries hinge on the PA security forces cooperation with Israel against Palestinians who resist occupation. And the billions of dollars paid to the PA leadership have not brought the Palestinians closer to their national goal of establishing their state. The PA, despite or because of the international assistance, became a conduit for corruption and patronage. Much of the donated capital has been squandered since there is no functioning legislative council and no accountability.
The PA leaders are viewed by the Palestinians as corrupt and illegitimate de facto leaders running a corrupt organization especially since none of its ranks has been brought to justice despite the undisputed evidence of wrong doing. Many officials in the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization allegedly have accepted numerous financial incentives to accept the status quo. Some Palestinian leaders even help build the infrastructure of Israeli apartheid by providing Israel with most of the cement it needed to build its Jews-only settlements and the apartheid wall.
Despite the rhetoric of the PA leaders, the facts on the ground suggest the PA economic, political and security institutions, as they are structured, have become essential elements in the Israeli occupation infrastructure. This shameful legacy of the PA justifies its dissolution.
- Hasan Afif El-Hasan is a political analyst. His latest book, Is The Two-State Solution Already Dead? (Algora Publishing, New York), now available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.