Palestinians must rearrange their priorities?

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is trying desperately these days to maintain its precarious survival under the Israeli occupation.

With empty coffers and no political breakthrough in sight, the Ramallah leadership is busy fabricating short-term “solutions,” rather than tackling and solving real problems.

Some observers accuse the PA of trying to divert people’s attention from the real thing, that is its clarion failure to end the Israeli occupation and attain freedom and liberation for the Palestinian people from the decades-old Israeli occupation.

Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said this week he was planning to hold municipal elections as early as October. He didn’t say what he would do if Israel prevented the organization of the elections.

So far, all efforts to achieve national reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas have failed, mainly due to the umbilical connection between the PA and the Israeli occupation regime.

The Israeli occupation army continues to control every street and neighborhood in the West Bank, including areas that are supposed to be autonomous, such as Ramallah, the de facto of capital of the PA.

Needless to say, the PA can hardly do anything without an Israeli permission or consent, which means that Israel, not the PA, has the final say with regard to all matters, including deciding when elections will take place and who has the right run for the polls.

Last week, an Israeli cabinet minister was quoted as saying that the PA had only one and only reason for its existence, namely to serve Israeli security interests.

The minister added: “If the PA failed to carry out this task to the letter, then it would lose its reason for existence as far as Israel is concerned.”

None of the PA leaders and officials dared to comment on, let alone challenge the Israeli minister’s arrogant remarks.

The truth of the matter is that the PA is an authority without authority, a police state without a state, an entity unlike any other under the sun. Many Palestinians routinely refer to it as a Palestinian Judenrat, a slave for Israel and a subcontractor for the occupation.

This is due mainly to the stupidity and impetuousness of the PLO which insisted that the PA would be a preparatory step toward the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, as the famous mantra continues to be invoked ad nauseam, mainly to blur and hide the Ramallah regime’s helplessness, fiasco and dilemma.

But how can the Palestinian people hold real elections under the current circumstances?

Indeed, to organize real elections, there has to be first at least a minimal degree of freedom of speech and expression and freedom to campaign and hold election rallies. But, as it is well known, none of this exists in the West Bank now as the PA security agencies continue to round up, maltreat and probably torture “non-conformist” elements, especially people with an Islamist orientation.

In addition, the security coordination regime between the Israeli occupation army and the PA security apparatus, which is realty an indelible disgrace on the Palestinian national movement, is still in its prime.

The “security coordination” is actually a euphemism connoting all sorts of collusion and connivance between the master and the slave against the common enemy, which is Hamas and other patriotic Palestinians striving for true freedom and real deliverance from the clutches of the colonialist Israeli occupation.

In the final analysis, we are speaking about a virtually total subservience to Israel on the part of the PA, irrespective of the empty rhetoric we keep hearing from the latter.

Apart from the absence of basic liberties and democratic requirements necessary for holding genuine elections, there are no real guarantees that Israel will allow the Islamists to participate in the election.

Israel has already declared Hamas’s parliamentary block, the Reform & Change List, unlawful, meaning that any electoral Islamist list will not be allowed to run for elections and that Islamist candidates would be detained, one by one, and sent to Israeli dungeons and detention camps for open-ended captivity which could last for many years. Even today, six and a half years after the 2006 legislative elections, more than 20 Islamist lawmakers are still languishing in the Israeli bastilles without charge or trial on no other account than the fact that they took part in elections whose outcome Israel didn’t like.

The nightmarish experience of the past six years should provide a sufficient lesson for both Fatah and Hamas to refrain from strident theatrical acts that bring no substantive benefits for the enduring Palestinian cause.

We know too well, Israel knows too well and the world knows very well that any arrangement that doesn’t involve the dismantling and liquidation of the occupation, harms rather than serves the Palestinian cause.

So what is the point of having all these grand names, such as President, Prime Minister, parliament, etc. when the lowest Israeli security personnel can shut off the entire PA with a lazy signal of his small finger?

I honestly believe that Hamas shouldn’t be carried away by PA harrowing toward organizing elections that could only allow Israel to claim that the Palestinian problem is nearly over and that most Palestinians live under the rule of the PA, not Israel.

The PA is deceptively trying to equate the situation in the West Bank with the situation in the Gaza Strip. Well the claimed symmetry is incorrect and highly misleading.

In Gaza, there are no Israeli forces patrolling the streets, arresting candidates contemplating running for elections.

In the West Bank, however the Israelis control every nook and cranny, and the last thing the Palestinians need is to have another generation of our leaders spend the prime of their lives in Zionist jails and concentration camps.

The organization of elections in the occupied territories, at a time when the Israeli apartheid regime is devouring the remainder of East Jerusalem as well as the West Bank, would amount to putting the cart before the horse.

It would also give the impression that the Palestinians are effectively coming to terms with the fait accompli as shaped by the unrelenting Israeli settlement enterprise.

This is not to say that Palestinians ought to reject all forms of elections as a matter of principle. Elections can be an acceptable option if proper guarantees are obtained from the international community to the effect that the occupying power wouldn’t interfere or intervene in the polls in any manner.

But Israel is unlikely to give such guarantees and the PA is powerless to prevent Israel from doing what suits the occupying power’s interests.

A final word. Since the military solution in Gaza in 2007, which preempted an American-Israeli backed coup against the democratically-elected government there, the PA succeeded in fostering an atmosphere of terror and fear in the West Bank which really suppressed all democratic freedoms, civil liberties and even basic human rights.

In the process of avenging the ousting of Fatah militias from Gaza, the PA arrested thousands, tortured hundreds, sacked many from their jobs and launched a witch-hunt campaign against the supporters of Hamas.

This reign of fear and terror, which is yet to come to an end, must be desensitized first and foremost before any election can even be contemplated. And this takes time.

Otherwise, false, manipulated elections would be utilized by the US, Israel and the PA to isolate the Islamic movement and therefore allow the PLO to succumb to Israeli-American pressure and bullying, which eventually could lead to the liquidation of the Palestinian cause.

Needless to say, such a scenario would allow people like Shimon Peres, the certified Zionist war criminal, and probably Mahmoud Abbas, the helpless and excessively “moderate” PA leader, to claim rather shamelessly that this is what the democratically-elected government of Palestine wants and that Hamas must accept the decision of the people.

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