By: Saleem Samad
Several factions of Palestinian organizations called for the cancellation of the Oslo Accords and the adoption of a national agenda for holding credible elections, forming a new national government, and rebuilding the state.
Recently, the Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas negated any reconciliation with the defiant Hamas militants occupying the Gaza strip unless it recognizes international resolutions. Abbas stressed that “there would be no dialogue with them (Hamas)” unless Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh responded in black and white and “[signed]with his name.”
Responding to Abbas’ conditions, Hamas spokesperson said that it would be “surrendering” to the Zionists (Israelis). He stated that “it [was]opposed with the Palestinian national consensus,” and described the PA stand as a “big obstacle” ahead of reaching national unity based on the Cairo understandings, which are being accepted by all Palestinian factions.
Hamas was born out of that Intifada uprising in the 1990s, which helped transform the entire Palestinian political landscape.
Presently, Gaza became a globally recognized symbol of resistance to aggression and the brutality of Israel’s occupation. Months after the bloody uprising, Israel was secretly negotiating with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in Oslo, Norway – which came to be known as the Oslo Accords.
The historic accord was signed by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat on September 13, 1993, in a White House ceremony presided over by jubilant United States President Bill Clinton.
The following year, Arafat and Rabin signed the Cairo Agreement, named after the Egyptian capital. The ultimate goal of both the Oslo Accords and Cairo Agreement was a resolution to grant autonomy to the people of Palestine, whereby Israel would end its occupation in both Gaza and Jericho.
In reality, the Palestinian Authority was born and Gaza-Jericho first was hailed as the first step towards a Palestinian state and the two nations were supposed to live peacefully. But after three decades, little has changed for the Palestinians. In fact, Israel tilted to the right and the state became more aggressive in its denial of Palestinian rights.
The successive governments in Tel Aviv (later shifted to Jerusalem) have done everything possible to undermine both agreements, rendering them into pieces of paper, and causing further disadvantage to the Palestinians.
According to the Accords and subsequent agreements, Palestinians should be living in a “state” within demarcated borders and making their own decisions through a democratic process. The Accords invited the curse for the PLO and its main faction, Al Fatah (founded by Yasser Arafat), which was known as the Palestinian National Liberation Movement.
Palestinians today remain internally divided and brutally oppressed and are losing more of the land that was promised for their future state. After decades of bloodshed and violence and the grassroots rejection of the occupation by Palestinians, Israeli policymakers came to believe that Israel could not continue its failing and costly occupation.
Israel cleverly allowed the PLO to become the civilian authority of PA in a divide and rule policy, like any other colonialist. Thus, it marked a turning point in the Palestinian struggle for independence and freedom, and the ageing liberation movement turned ineffective.
Obviously, the Israeli regime is most benefitted from the division of Palestinians along factional lines despite their united goal to create a Palestinian state. Several times, Hamas hoped to join the PLO as a way of becoming recognized by Palestinians as a legitimate national government of the Palestine Authority.
In the years to come, factionalism, suspiciousness, and distrust have widened the political divide, leaving no hope for Hamas to be represented in the PLO.
Last week, Dr Mustafa Fetouri, a Libyan academic and recipient of the EU’s Freedom of the Press prize, wrote in the Middle East Monitor that many Palestinians believe Hamas did the right thing by not insisting on joining the PLO after the latter became no more than a failed and corrupt political organization.
Today, the Palestine state, dominated by the PLO, has lost its pride and historical legitimacy to become yet another failed bureaucracy. The PA is riddled with massive corruption and is on the brink of a failed state. (The author is an independent journalist, media rights defender, recipient of Ashoka Fellowship and Hellman-Hammett Award. He could be reached at <[email protected])