September Declaration: The Gap between Politics and Reality

▣ FAQ ▣ Palestine Statehood Bid

Palestinian soldiers stand behind the tomb of late leader Yasser Arafat and a symbolic Palestinian UN chair in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Photo: AFP – Abbas Momani)

By: Majd Kayyal |  September 13, 2011 |  Al Akhbar English

Many Palestinians don’t seem to be taking the September bid for statehood at the UN seriously. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has relied on international committees of experts for this ‘diplomatic intifada.’ Yet many remain uninformed about what the bid entails and are uncertain as to where it will lead to, if it does in fact succeed.

Leading Palestinian political parties have not explained what the proposed bid realistically means, and the PA doesn’t seem to know what it wants. But we Palestinians know one thing: nothing in our lives will change after the September declaration. We know by now that our lives will not get any better as long as the Oslo gang is running the show. Nor can things get worse, as we have already reached the bottom.

Palestinian politics divested from realities on the ground long ago, and what the media portrays as politics is far removed from that reality. How can there be talk of a settlement freeze, when large parts of the West Bank have been completely taken over by Israeli settlements? This gap between reality and politics has made Palestinians question everything the political leadership says and does. The widespread apathy we see today is born from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which monopolizes the legitimate representation of the Palestinian struggle, and the PA that has destroyed the foundations of this struggle.

The PA is supposed to be the only legitimate political representative entrusted with the unification of the struggle and our people’s rights. In reality, though, the PA suffocates and monopolizes the struggle in the name of unity. It has turned the historical rights of a people into a political process where nothing is sacred. The PA has, in effect, become a sub-contractor for occupation, even playing the role of policeman to ‘maintain security’ for its master in Tel Aviv.

But we should be brave enough to admit that the Oslo team is not the only one who has reduced the Palestinian struggle to such despair. All Palestinian factions, including Fatah, Hamas, and the left, share responsibility. The factions’ handling of the statehood bid is a good example of this blundering. They have vacillated between outright opposition and declared reservation, without taking a clear stand that would require resolute action in either the political or popular spheres.The factions have learned from Oslo that it is best to remain silent at such critical junctures in order to preserve political and material gains for the coming years. They feel no shame while the Oslo team unilaterally barters away basic Palestinian rights. This is more than opportunism. These leaders exploit their faction’s history of struggle in order to maintain ineffective organizations with no substantial popular base.

Arab intellectuals have also fallen out with reality, particularly when discussing their opposition to the statehood bid. Some point out that the September declaration concedes the right of return, as if return had not already been compromised away. Others say that the Palestinian issue will turn into a border dispute, as though that is not already the case. More worry that the bid will weaken the PLO, as if the organization has not been anemic for decades.

We must come to terms with the fact that the Oslo team is little more than an extension of Israel. Therefore, we cannot expect them not to compromise. The people engaging in this ‘diplomatic uprising’ are the same people coordinating with the occupation on security matters, helping to suppress popular struggle.

We need to take a close look at the situation on the ground and develop an alternative to the Oslo process. This will inevitably lead to a serious campaign aimed at undermining the PA, along with all its institutions and affiliated factions that benefit from it. We must do all we can to sever political, intellectual, and popular ties with the PA, while at the same time advocating the alternative of direct popular confrontation with the occupation. Doing so will expose the occupation and the PA as two faces of the same beast.A Palestinian popular struggle along the lines of the first intifada would be a nightmare shared by the Israelis and the Oslo team alike. A new intifada will bring the occupation and the PA closer together as they attempt to suppress it. This is how a popular uprising can fill the gap between politics and reality.

The declaration of a state in September will most likely reinforce Palestinian apathy, empowering the PA despite its record of compromise. The statehood bid will further revive the failed ‘peace process’ by turning the PA into a full-fledged state. This can only mean the weakening of Palestinian engagement in popular struggle and political action.

Majd Kayyal is a Palestinian writer.

This article is translated from the Arabic Edition.


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