PA urged to safeguard Palestinian rights

Observers question Palestinian Authority's policy of putting all its eggs in elusive basket of 'statehood'

PA urged to safeguard Palestinian rights

World Bulletin / News Desk

When the Palestinian flag was raised outside the UN’s New York headquarters last September, the Palestinian government hailed it as a milestone in the long road towards statehood -- but not everyone considered it so momentous.

Critics said it was only a symbolic gesture, given that no sovereign state of Palestine actually exists, while many activists insisted that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had to do more to advance Palestinian rights.

The PA's detractors have repeatedly cited its failure to secure those rights as a prime factor behind a spate of violence that has seen more than 200 Palestinians killed since last October -- most of them shot dead by Israeli troops following alleged knife or vehicular attacks.

Over the same period, 34 Israelis have been killed in alleged attacks by Palestinians.

"The Palestinian people have lost faith in the PA and in its ability to secure statehood," said Amal Ahmad, a political analyst at the Palestinian Al-Shabaka think tank.

"But they also find themselves with no alternatives in terms of leadership or strategic direction -- all while remaining under the suffocating brutality of the Israeli state," she added.

"The consequence is a loss of direction; an environment marked by hopelessness and stagnation, punctuated by recurring acts of violence," Ahmad said.

- ‘Abortive project’ - 

According to Ahmad, the PA's focus on securing statehood has misdirected Palestinian energy into an "abortive project", which, she argued, distracted attention from the dire need to defend Palestinian rights from an aggressive Israel that has little interest in a "two-state solution".

"It buys time for Israel to entrench its system of apartheid and its containment of the Palestinians, while the latter squabble over the details of a ‘solution’ that is not -- and never has been -- on the table," she said.

"I believe a rights-based strategy will be particularly effective in countering this vision of apartheid by accurately identifying it and fighting it back on its own terms," the analyst asserted.

According to Mahmoud al-Zahar, a leading member of Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, which since 2007 has governed the blockaded Gaza Strip, the PA has failed to achieve anything after two decades of negotiations with Israel.

Nor, he added, had it succeeded in providing even a modicum of security to Palestinians.

As a result, he said, Palestinians were divided over the question as to whether to continue the so-called "peace process" or to turn to armed resistance against Israel’s decades-long occupation.

"The PA’s negotiations [with Israel] lost 60 percent of the West Bank -- and all of East Jerusalem -- to Jewish-only settlements," said Zahar.

By contrast, he added, Palestinian resistance factions such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad believed "the only way to get our land back is by armed resistance".

- 'Occupied' - 

Former PA minister and political analyst Ghassan Khatib, for his part, agreed that the PA had failed the Palestinians in certain areas -- especially socially and economically -- but insisted that there was no need for it to abandon its long-term goal of acquiring statehood.

According to Khatib, any strategy that serves to put international pressure on Israel, whether through the UN or via global boycotts of Israeli goods, benefits the Palestinians -- even if it does not immediately lead to a Palestinian state.

He also stressed the need for reconciliation between the PA and Hamas, asserting that Israel was exploiting the ongoing rift between them.

"I don't think there is a contradiction between… the internationalization of the cause and rallying support, and paying attention to social and political needs," noted Khatib, who is also a lecturer at Birzeit University in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

"It's true the Palestinian leadership is not… doing enough [to meet] the local needs of the people," he said.

"But the reason is not that they're busy with international activities; I think they can do more [domestically] at the same time," Khatib said, noting that the Ramallah-based Palestinian government was mainly responsible for domestic, not external, policies.

"The lack of attention and poor performance of the government is a fact that cannot be justified by saying that they are occupied," he concluded.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Mart 2016, 10:03