The Osloization of the Palestinian Left

By Haidar Eid

The Osloization of the Palestinian Left is now complete. The opportunistic and unprincipled position taken by the right-wing “Left” of the PLO vis-à-vis the current standoff between Hamas and Fatah is yet another indication of the Left’s inexorable  deterioration which followed its’ implicit acceptance of the Oslo accords—despite its alleged opposition to that agreement. In fact, the People’s Party never opposed the accords, but rather legitimized them by its acceptance of ministerial positions in almost every government formed since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.

Judging by statements and analyses presented by the main Left organizations and individuals, one could conclude that, in spite of its rich revolutionary tradition, the Left has been hijacked by right-wing cabals, whose interest is intertwined with that of the political elite of Oslo. Although I fail to understand how a nation can have elections under the boot of a brutal occupying power, I still naively thought that the Palestinian Left, and liberal forces for that matter, would seize the unique opportunity which arose as a result of that democratic process in January 2006 and support and strengthen it. The long held slogans of “from and for the masses” and “long live the people” turned out to be hollow.

No honest supporter of the Left would disagree with the statement that the Oslo agreement has brought disaster to Palestine. Oslo brought an unprecedented level of corruption into Palestine; and security coordination with Israel has become the norm. To guarantee itself an easy ride, the controlling party—itself hijacked by a right-wing cabal groomed by General Keith Dayton—has managed to bribe the major secular forces belonging to the PLO. Most members of the Political Bureaus of the major Left parties are either directly employed by the PA, or get paid monthly salaries without being directly employed!

Instead of harnessing all effort to fight the outcome of the Oslo Accords, and instead of respecting the outcome of the 2006 elections and forming a United Front with the party that won the elections (Hamas) with a clear majority on a platform of resistance and reforms, the Left has, alas fallen in line with the undemocratic methods adopted by the controlling party (Fatah) and failed the historical test.

I am aware of the differences within the Left itself, but I am more interested in the position of its supposedly most radical wing, i.e. the PFLP. In its statements and in most interviews with its leaders, the PFLP has shown an unexpected undemocratic position by mainly dovetailing its position with that of the unelected government in Ramallah and the ‘ancient’ leadership of the PLO. By claiming to be taking a neutral position, but blaming Hamas for defending itself against General Dayton and General Abrams plans to oust it and liquidate the Palestinian cause altogether, the PFLP has taken not just a short-sighted position, but an opportunistic one. Not a single PFLP leader in Gaza and the West Bank has mentioned the names of the American Generals and their roles in the bloody clashes that took place in Gaza in June 2007. In fact, Abdul Rahim Mallouh, Deputy Secretary General, has made it more than clear in almost all the interviews he has given to Palestine TV (itself a tool of right wing propaganda) that Hamas is responsible for the current situation. Other senior PFLP leaders in Gaza have reiterated this. None of them seems to be aware of the role played by the American Generals in arming and financing war lords in Gaza. Hani Hassan, a member of the Central Committee of Fatah, is more conscious of this role.

In support of the unconstitutional Ramallah government, the Palestinian Left in Gaza has been revived within the PLO so that it can fight the caretaker government of Hamas. Marches, Friday prayers, and strikes have been staged in Gaza to protest against Hamas and its executive forces. “Freedom of expression” has become the new slogan of the Palestinian left, but with great selectivity. The banning of two Hamas affiliated newspapers in the West Bank; the shutting down of the offices of Alaqsa Satellite Station, and the imprisonment of 600 political prisoners by the PA without a trial or charge; the shooting and killing of an An Najah university student by PA security forces; the bi-weekly meetings between the Palestinian Chairman of the PA and the Israeli PM; the shutting down of more than 110 charity organizations; and the obstruction—in coordination with the Israelis– of a Qatari draft at the SC of the UN to consider Gaza an area of human disaster—have not motivated the Left to stage a single march or strike in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Left has a historical mission that it has not lived up to; a mission that should take resistance and democracy as the two torches which will lead to freedom. Alas, it has failed miserably and what is left of the Left is just rhetoric that has nothing to do with the rich legacy of the historical leaders and fighters that radicalized the concept of struggle, not only locally, but also internationally. This Left has not been able to adapt to the new realities which face the Palestinian people. A “new” Left is, therefore, necessary; a Left that is completely free of the Oslo legacy; one that can provide a democratic alternative to the two-state industry. This “new” Left must, together with other popular forces of resistance, strategize and build on international solidarity and boycott campaigns, in a united front, to confront the Zionist and imperialist onslaught. Is there a way of reaching the ears of the Left in Palestine? Alas, the signs are not that encouraging.

– Haidar Eid is an independent political analyst.

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