Dec 26, 2016


Will Mahmoud Abbas turn success into failure (again) or will he finally show backbone to use the UNSC resolution to save what remains of Palestine? By Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh, Bethlehem, Palestine

DEDICATION: This post is dedicated to Mohammad Al-Ghaz and all similar suffering children of Gaza. Mohammad was interviewed a year ago while selling newspapers in the streets. He was asked what he wishes for the new year 2016 and he impulsively answered “like die.” He went on to explain that his life is so miserable and he cannot go to school and has to work hard to find food for his family. Mohammad got his wish this Christmas season as he slipped on the roof of a four story building as he was trying to get some wood (video in Arabic here ). The UN says Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. The two million people of Gaza including 1 million children are threatened with massive deaths (genocide). Please remember these one million children who are losing hope in humanity and do something to end Israeli apartheid. And of course the over 400 million children in the world who go to sleep hungry like those Palestinians in Gaza.

Fatah joined the PLO in 1968 and at the same year, there was the first conflict in which Zionist colonial military had to retreat (at Karama through Jordanian and Palestinian resistance). What quickly followed is a defeat in 1970 that was due to lack of knowledge and strategizing and understanding the nature of the society and government in Trans-Jordan at the time. So the PLO was kicked out of Jordan and went to Lebanon in 1970. The only silver lining was that the Palestinians in the 1967 occupied areas started to depend on themselves forming unions and other organizations that developed into the 1974 uprising. The 1973 October war was almost a success militarily except for the US interventions under Zionist Henry Kissinger de facto presidency in foreign affairs (Nixon was too busy with Watergate etc to be an effective president).1973 remain the only real war between contending armies Arab and Zionist (others Arab armies did not fight and in many cases were colluding like in 1948). But the success was political in showing the Israeli state as vulnerable. A 1974 uprising cost Israel a near total collapse of its economy.  But as will happen later, the PLO leadership of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas turned success to failure by pushing the 10 point program in late 1974 which in essence contradicted the PLO charter and accepted partition (UN general assembly “recommendation” 181 and 194). In exchange for this "compromise" (capitulation), Palestinians got assassinations, a right wing government in Israel in 1977, increased colonial settlements, and the Egyptian government betrayal.

But again we Palestinians picked ourselves up and resumed the struggle which culminated in a major uprising in 1987 that again shook Israel to its core. Instead of capitalizing on this success, Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas pushed for a meaningless “Declaration of Independence” that basically recognized oppressors' legitimacy (under the guise of accepting UN resolutions). Thus the UN could not be holier than the Pope and rescinded its 1974 resolution that equated Zionism with racism (which it is). This capitulation led to Oslo accords harvesting not even low lying fruit but rotten fruit from under the tree. This again saved the Zionist project and more than 50 countries that did not recognize Israel before did so after Oslo. Oslo II agreement in 1994 especially made sure that the Palestinian Authority becomes a subcontractor for the occupation. And between 1993 and today, the number of colonial settlers in the West Bank went from 150,000 to 750,000 (more per square kilometer than inside the Green Line). These were all by Palestinian leadership decisions. Palestinian technical experts (legal, mapping, historical, locals who know the terrain) who were in the negotiations all tell the same story of ignoring their council and forging ahead by the hierarchy. All agree that much more could have been obtained. Many quit in disgust. This is snatching failure from the jaws of success. The pattern repeated with International Criminal Court (ICC), the UN etc for example after Goldstone report (withdrawal), after the BDS call of 2005 (Abbas did not support it and actually spoke against it insisting that only settlement products should be boycotted).  The list goes on and on.

 The UN Security Council (UNSC) issued a resolution in 1980 condemning the settlements in the occupied territories as contrary to the Fourth Geneva conventions. But as capitulations continued (see above), the US got emboldened and started to veto every resolution that was clearly based on International law vis a vis Israel. The USA used its veto power or the threat of veto to thwart any attempt to make Israel comply with human rights and International law. After 36 years and in the last month of President Obama, the USA decided not to veto and simply to abstain (all other 14 members of the UNSC voted with the resolutions. Donald Trump, Egyptian military dictator Sisi, and the Israeli puppets in Congress failed to dissuade Obama from this partial decency (should have voted with to make it unanimous). In any case most analysts consider this resolution a success even though it a) has no enforcement mechanism, b) also equates violence of colonizer with “violence” of colonized, c) does not even mention the word Palestine,

Now, what will happen with this latest resolution? ssuming it is not "too little too late" and regardless of the reasons Obama allowed it passage it after thwarting similar resolutions, two and only two options are before us:

Option 1: The PA goes on in the same pattern as before (especially its security collaboration to protect Israel from any form of meaningful resistance that impacts a cost). Israel already rejected the resolution and is proceeding with colonization activities.  Saeb Erekat, Chief Palestinian Negotiator simply told journalists that he wishes 2017 s a year of ending the occupation and that they will approach the US under its new administration as well as other countries and “ask” that they do something. Israel will annex Maale Adumim consolidating apartheid further (e.g. ). PA official speakers from Abu Mazen down to mayors and Fatah revolutionary council members will recite the same scripted speeches over and over again (we want a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital; those who are a little, not much, braver, will say that and implementing UN resolution 194 on refugees; none will dare say anything about the 50 laws that discriminate against Palestinians living inside the green line). This is hoping some savior comes (sorry, Jesus Christ came and Mohammad was recognized the last prophet and we do not anticipate more now).

Option 2: The PA tells the International community that as of a particular date (say in two weeks) unless Israel announces and implements a total freeze (under UN supervision) on all buildings in all the occupied territories and lifts the siege on Gaza, the PA will stop security cooperation. As Israel will not do this and will retaliate, things will get worse but this is a desperate situation and delay cannot happen this time. It is an opportunity that cannot be lost in the middle of transitions between Obama and Trump. Obama will have to deal with it and so will Trump (and us and Israel). It might be actually the last chance for leadership of Fatah to show some new backbone that salvages the Palestinian cause. If not I am use that following option 1 will result in a new grass-root liberation movement to come before 2020 that will reinvigorate the mission of a pluralistic secular democracy (original PLO Charter) in all of Palestine which will eventually succeed (there are already 6.2 million of us here, more than 50% of the population). History will not be kind to those who miss this opportunity at best they will say that their incompetency caused too much suffering or that they were outright traitors for putting personal interest ahead of public interest. It is never too late to correct a mistaken course. It takes courage to admit mistakes. Being humble as the Buddhists say is the first step to greatness.


  1. A PA strategy to stop security cooperation if Israel does not implement the UNSC resolution to freeze its colonization by Jewish settlers and lift the siege of Gaza could be an effective answer to pressure Israel and at the same time the international solidary movement will follow and pressure their governments to ask for the respect of the UNSC resolution by Israel.
    BDS will also get stronger. PA has to act quickly before Trump could make any steps in favor of Israel when becoming president on January 20th.

  2. It must - by now - be absolutely apparent that there can be no separate Palestine State. Therefore, why not drop the pretence and demand a single-state in the former British Mandate Palestine area, which can include people of all beliefs and none.
    Whether the state is called Israel or Palestine makes no difference to everyday ordinary people.
    What is important is that all people living in the area should enjoy equal rights in all respects. Inward migration should also be allowed to all who identify with the new state.
    The US should meet in full the costs of all the land appropriated by the former zionist state.

  3. "Council" should be "counsel" ("ignoring their counsel"). "If not I am sure", not "If not I am use". Okay, Mazin, you've convinced me you're not an Abbas mouthpiece. I would suggest you take your own historical advice--you say the PLO did not gauge the situation in Jordan carefully--and lay out your understanding of the US/EU/NATO political situation carefully. I just watched the beginning of a speech by Tom Friedman (NYT still?) this month in San Francisco (Commonwealth Club) on Youtube You'll see my two comments. My conclusion is that the Israel movement in the US is shattered. You may have reached that conclusion implicitly in calling for the end of "security" cooperation with Israel. I'm admiring George Washington more and more. I suspect he knew in 1775 that England could not hold on to the colonies, that England should not, because it was not in England's interest to do so: so all he had to do was wait for England to realize this, as obstacles to its continued appropriation, as it were, emerged. Anyone who calls herself Jewish these days must realize that the only way Jews of whatever definition can securely and legitimately stay in Palestine (historical Palestine) is in a regime of laws where they will be a minority. Of course, we often fail to grasp what we must realize. The essential step you have taken here: making it clear you are not a second-class citizen who prefers to be trodden under foot. I wish you could chat with Abbas on that point: does he enjoy being humiliated over and over again?

  4. I am not optimistic about Mahmoud Abbas' politcial vision. After all, what political visionary would have attended the funeral of a man who victimized his people over a period of decades?

    1. Two disciples studied the gospel story about the banquet where you are advised to take a seat at the lowest table, perhaps to be invited up to the head table, rather than seating yourself at the head table, perhaps to be asked to move down. One disciple said, "I would not only sit at the lowest table, I would lie down and serve as a rug so the other guests could walk on me." The other disciple replied, "Who do you serve?"

  5. Needs wide circulation among Palestinian activists inside and abroad via social media and in Arabic to put the PA mafia in Ramallah on the spot.

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