False ‘Victories’: Is the PA Using the ‘State of Palestine’ to Remain in Power?

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RAMZY BAROUD | Caravan
Daily

THE ‘State of Palestine’ has officially been handed the Chairmanship of the G-77, the United Nations largest block. This is particularly significant considering the relentless Israeli-American plotting to torpedo Palestinian push for greater international recognition and legitimacy.

It is now
conclusive that the main mission for former United States Ambassador to the UN,
Nikki Haley, was an unmitigated failure.

When Haley gave
her infamous
speech
before the pro-Israel lobby, AIPAC, in March 2017 – declaring
herself the ‘new sheriff in town’ on behalf of Israel – the US-Israeli designs
were becoming clearer: never again will the US shy
away
from defending Israel at the UN as the previous Obama
Administration had done in December 2016.

In retrospect, Haley’s
tactics
– the aggressive language, the constant threats and outright
political bullying – amounted to nothing. Her short stint of two years at the
UN has only managed to, once again, accentuate US dwindling power and influence
on the international stage.

Instead of
isolating Palestinians, the US ended up joining Israel in its own isolation.
Unable to make any tangible ‘achievements’ in favor of Israel, a frustrated US
administration carried out its threats as it quit crucial UN bodies like UNESCO,
Human
Rights Council
, among others. In doing so, the US is now imprudently
dismantling the very international order it helped create following World War
II.

The Palestinian
Authority, on the other hand, has taken full advantage of the obvious shift in
world order. Being voted
to the helm of the G77 – which bonds 134 countries from the South in a massive
economic order – is an extraordinary event.

But what does
this mean in terms of the Palestinian quest for statehood?

The PA seems to
operate within two separate – and often contradictory – political spheres.

On the one hand,
it is in full cooperation with Israel in terms of ‘security
coordination
‘, at times serving as if Israel’s policeman in the
Occupied West Bank. Its constant crackdown
on Palestinian dissent and its monopolization of Palestinian decision-making
have been major obstacles before the Palestinian people in their fight for
rights, justice and freedom.

On the other
hand, the PA has been pursuing a determined path towards international
recognition, starting with its successful
bid
to obtain a non-member observer status for the State of
Palestine in November 2012.

That momentous
event, which took place despite US-Israeli strong rejection and protests,
opened up the door for Palestine to join various UN organizations such as the
International Criminal Court.

Palestine is yet
to acquire full UN membership, a pursuit that is being renewed
at the moment. However, as of August 2015, the flag of Palestine has been fluttering
at the UN headquarters, along with those of 193 other nations.

So how is one to
reconcile between these two realities?

It goes without
saying that the international support that Palestine is receiving at the UN is
an outcome of existing solidarity and sympathy with the Palestinian people and
their rightful struggle for human rights and independence. It has preceded the
PA by decades, and will be there for many years to come.

The PA, however,
has tactfully translated this international support and validation to political
assets among Palestinians at home.

Indeed, much of
the support that the PA and its dominant Fatah party continue to enjoy among
ordinary Palestinians is driven by the following logic: every symbolic
diplomatic ‘victory’ achieved by the PA abroad is followed by massive celebrations
in Ramallah, fiery speeches of an imminent freedom and statehood.

But freedom, of
course, remains elusive, partly because the PA is yet to develop a real
strategy for resisting Israeli military Occupation and colonization. Its
determination and vigor to acquire more international recognition is juxtaposed
with utter laxity and disinterest in developing a unified national strategy in
Palestine itself.

This points to
an unmistakable conclusion: The PA’s strategy is merely focused on the very
survival of the PA as a political apparatus, and on ‘Palestinian independence’
within an immaterial diplomatic sphere, without any tangible evidence of that
‘independence’ on the ground.

How else can one
explain the fierce fight, in the name of Palestine and those suffering in Gaza,
put up by PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, and his Ambassador, Riad al-Maliki at
the UN, while the PA continues to withhold
salaries from besieged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip?

The sad truth is
that the fight for Palestinian recognition at the UN is, at its core, a fight
for Abbas and his Authority to remain relevant, and solvent,
in a changing international political order.

Meanwhile, for
Palestinians, Abbas’ diplomatic achievements represent the proverbial morphine
shots injected in the collective vein of an occupied and suffering people,
desperate for a ray of hope.

According to the General Federation of Palestinian Trade Unions, poverty in the Gaza Strip has exceeded 80 percent, coupled with a 54.9% level of unemployment. The West Bank, too, is suffering, with the Israeli army and violent illegal Jewish settlers terrorizing the Palestinian population there. Thousands of Palestinian men and women languish in Israeli jails, hundreds of them held without trial.

Not only has the
PA done little to challenge – or, at least, attempt to reverse – that reality,
it has, at times contributed to it. Yet, oddly, the PA’s pitiful political
discourse in Palestine is contrasted with a well-defined, articulate and
purportedly courageous language outside.

“We will go to
the Security Council for submitting our application,” to obtain full
Palestinian membership at the UN, Palestinian Ambassador, al-Maliki, told
reporters on January 15. “We know that we are going to face a US veto but this
won’t prevent us from presenting our application”.

In fact, this is
the crux of the PA strategy at the moment. Knowing that it has little
legitimacy
among ordinary Palestinians, the PA is desperate to find
an alternative source of legitimacy somewhere else.

While a greater support for the ‘State of Palestine’ is a positive sign indicating a changing world order, it is, sadly, used by the Palestinian leadership to sustain its own oppressive, futile and corrupt political gambit.

__________________________________________

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over
20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an
author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His books
include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second Palestinian Intifada” and his latest “My
Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is
www.ramzybaroud.net.

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