RAMALLAH, Feb 22 (JMCC) - Palestinian officials are in danger of doing too little, too late, says Palestinian analyst Saleh Abdel Jawad, even as they struggle to respond to the series of crises that are sweeping the Arab world.
Writing in the web magazine
bitterlemons.org, Abdel Jawad says that so far steps taken by Palestinian officials are merely cosmetic, and much deeper changes are called for if the leadership is to survive.
The Palestinian cabinet's decision to hold municipal elections at the end of July of this year; the dissolution of Salam Fayyad's government ten days ago; the resignation of Saeb Erekat as chief Palestinian negotiator; and the PLO executive committee's decision to hold legislative and presidential elections by September 2011 are all part of maneuvers and a strategy meant to overcome and respond to the new situation in the Arab world and the al-Jazeera leaks scandal.
However, Mahmoud Abbas' and Salam Fayyad's strategy will not succeed--not only because it is too little, too late--but because it is irrelevant. First, all political Islamic parties and movements (Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizb al-Tahrir) oppose it. As a matter of fact, the opposition to holding legislative and presidential elections is unanimous among the factions save some Fateh circles (considered the Power Party).
Political parties other than the political Islamists and independent forces without political affiliation (which make up more than 30 percent of the Palestinian political map) and observers consider holding an election before ending the division between Fateh and Hamas as an internalization and reinforcement of this division, which is not only between the two factions but also between Gaza and the West Bank, thus compromising if not ending the Palestinian state national project.
But there are other deeper concerns: all those who are not pro-Palestinian Authority, including the new young Facebook generation, consider elections an attempt by the PA to regain eroded legitimacy at a time when not only is it in question, but also the legitimacy of PLO institutions and the PLO's very capacity to lead the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The leaked documents by al-Jazeera promoted anger but also proved the uselessness of the negotiations process.
International and regional changes (the weakness of the United States, Israeli intransigence, the rise of the rejection front, and the fall of the Mubarak regime as a main ally of the PA) are all weakening the PA and the current PLO leadership.
Only changes like the election of a new Palestinian National Council (the highest body in the PLO) would set new rules for the game. Ending the political division and rethinking the negotiations are considered a minimum offer to be accepted by the PA.