When evaluating the PA performance many political analysts focus on the PA’s well publicized corruption. Arafat and his cronies are happy to admit and wishfully hope to get away with just a corruption accusation. They are in “good” company; after all, name one third world or Arab country that is not corrupt! Therefore to the PA, an accusation of corruption is a welcome distraction from the more serious charge of utter and wilful incompetence. I think the PA corruption is a manifestation rather than the root cause of our leadership problems. To totally eliminate corruption one would have to dig deep into the social value system as well as the political leadership that give rise, propagate and maintain it. We need to keep in mind that corrupt leadership and corrupt systems do not exist in a vacuum. They have a multifaceted internal and external contributing factors. However, I do not want to stray away from the subject at hand, but it suffice to say that had it just stopped at corruption, I would personally be prepared to forgive the PA this serious but non fatal flaw!
But as bad as corruption is, I think the PA leadership trouble is much deep rooted than that. The root cause of the problem is the PA’s incompetence that borders on treason. My definition of treason here is scarifying the national interest and the national cause for personal or narrow group interest. Had the PA blunders been only in the past, and they are now suddenly and magically rehabilitated, then I would be the first to heed some of the genuine but misplaced notions that we all should forget the past and support the PA now. But forgiving their ongoing incompetence especially at this very critical time invites more disasters as we have been experiencing so far.
To illustrate my point, let us briefly review some of their tragic strategic blunders and starting with Oslo and continuing to this day. It gives me no great pleasure to say “I told you [PA] so 6 years ago”. Using simple cold logic; Zionist history, practices and declared aspiration; the prevalent political climate; and a humble rudimentary knowledge of politics; I was able to accurately deduce within few months of Oslo the current bombardment of our population centres 6 years later and the PA was repeatedly informed and has been aware of that strong possibility. As soon as Oslo details became public, I could see that Oslo success hinged almost totally and exclusively on Israel’s good intention and here lies the PA’s tragic strategic mistake. By accepting the bogus Oslo, the PA deprived the Palestinians of any leverage while leaving all the cards in the “trusted” Israel’s hands with no real Palestinian recourse what so ever. But given Israel’s record, past, present and future aspiration and discounting treasonous theory, it would take an insane gambler or a political simpleton to totally rely on Israel’s good intention. Simply put, you do not rely on pure good intention when you are dealing with a 100-years-enemy whom you are locked in a survival struggle with. This is not a used car deal!!!
The Israeli plan was simple and transparent, one and the PA should be exception can easily envision its formation and subsequent step by step implementation right through the last 7 miserable years of the “peace of the braves”. Israel plan has been to use the PA to police and control the Palestinians while Israel consolidates its grip on the occupied lands and its resources and all under the cover the peace. If the PA becomes UNWILLING or UNABLE to continue to do so, Israel would use the PA armed presence as a pretext to bomb Palestinian population centres back to the stone ages, while maintaining or at least neutralizing world public sympathy as is happening right now.
I have personally communicated these well founded and easily predictable conclusion and fears to the PA as of 6 years ago and again 4 years ago, here in Ottawa, Canada. Furthermore, I added that if the time and political climate allows it, Israel may use the opportunity to even expel or terrorize a sizable chunk of this population east of the Jordan river and in due time create a “Palestinian” state in Jordan. It is no secret that this has been one of Sharon’s’ long held vision and plans. So the PA strategic blunder has been to give away all its cards and to set foot in Palestine without a concrete Israeli withdraw from a fully sovereign and contiguous territory that can function as a true Palestinian state.
Remember the ingénues of the first Intifada was that it deprived Israel of the use of its biggest asset, its military muscles, while maintaining world public sympathy for the largely unarmed Palestinian civilians uprising a against a military occupation. Israel learned that bitter lesson and allowed the creation of over 20,000 PA police with light weaponry as a double edge sword that it can use in due time. When one of the high ranking Fatah leaders was in Canada 4 years ago, he made a statement that Palestinians now have 20,000 rifles instead of 100 during the first Intifada. Wrongly implying, in case of another uprising or Israeli aggression the Palestinians were in better shape to resist due to Oslo. My response to him was, if Israel wants to take the Palestinian population centres back, which I strongly doubt unless for brief destructive objective rather than permanent occupation, I would let them and I would declare Oslo null and void and demand free passage or protection to the police force and let Israel go back to fighting the Palestinians population as it did during the first Intifada. On more “equal” footing. Not a desirable situation for Israel. However, since Israel has mostly achieved its Oslo objectives, such option may no longer be valid and require serious revaluation.
Now back to Arafat and the PA ongoing blunders, failed and short sighted tactics as they continue to damage our cause and undermine our people’s resistance and struggle on daily basis. They continue to allow themselves to be used as a tool by the US, Israel and even some Arab regimes to deflect the effect or in fact kill the Intifada. They have lost all credibility and are a huge liability on most fronts. Let us examine few examples of their performance the last few months or weeks:
1- They have handed Palestinians back to Israel, while the Israeli army and settlers continue to kill and maim our civilians including 10 years old children! Barak condition to attend the last Sharam El Sheik summit was for the PA to hand him the 8 Palestinians responsible for the killing of two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah. The PA complied! What happens to those that torture and beat our 9 and 10 years old children to death? If they are ever brought to justice, they get off with 6 months community service. An Israeli Jew would face much harsher punishment had he killed a pet than killing an 11 years old Arab boy. If we can NOT stop the savages from killing and torturing our children, must we hand our people back to them? Has our blood become so cheap! Since the PA seem to have accepted that we are less human than the Jews! Do they have the right to impose that on us? By doing so, what kind of message are they sending to the Israelis and to our own people!
2- The PA colluded with the Americans, Israel and some Arab regimes in pre-empting the Cairo Arab and Qatar Islamic summits through preceding them with the last Sharam El Sheikh summit and putting on the pretence of a resolution when there was non. What purpose does it serve to get the Arab regimes off the hock?
3- Sharon has insisted on not continuing with the “peace theatrics” till Palestinians “renounce and stop violence”. Thus reducing our 100 years struggle to an issue of mindless Palestinian violence. The Israelis as well as Sharon have been saying that Arabs only listen to force or the threat of it. The PA response was to try to calm down the Intifada in compliance to Sharon and a head of the Amman Arab Summit. Again, what kind of messages are they sending to the world, the Israeli public and most of all to the Butcher of Sabra and Shatila?
4- There is a viable Arab and Islamic movement to boycott Israeli or Israeli sympathetic firms. One of the offending company is the soft drink company Coca Cola. Few weeks ago the PA allowed Coke to sponsor the Palestinian football team. For few thousands dollars or may be even less, the PA was willing to jeopardize what could become very effective grassroots Arab and Muslim boycott movement. What benefits was the PA getting from such short sighted move? What kind of message such a move sends to the Arabs and Muslims organizing the boycott? What kind of message was being sent to Coke? How much damage are they causing to the credibility of our cause and future grassroots actions?
5- The PA has repeatedly declared that there will be no security cooperation’s or security meeting with the Israeli side unless Israel stops shelling Palestinians and negotiation are restarted where they have left off. Remember that the Intifada did not start in response to Israel siege and shelling of Palestinian towns and residential neipherhood. Instead, it started in response to Israeli occupation and the accompanying peace theatrics that had lead to more land loss, more oppression and more economic hardship. So the Intifada should only stop when Israel takes concrete steps into ending its occupation by starting to dismantle settlements. But Israel just announced the expansion of more settlements! Israel insist on keeping over 4,500 Palestinians in jail! Israel started the planning process of allowing Jews to pray on the ground of Al-Aqsa mosque while shelling and besieging Palestinian towns! Despite all that, the PA just had its second security co-operation meeting in a week. Why make statements to only break them within days? What kind of precedence and expectation such empty pronouncements set? This is a pattern that the PA has gotten into since its inception. It is as if the PA is intent on humiliating itself and it people in the process. The PA makes these grand and not so grand declaration, only to retract them or break them upon Israeli well publicized insistence. Who are these people running the PA and do they have any true Arab blood running in their veins?
6- The recent killing of Islamic Jihad activists Iyad Hardan in Jenine seconds after he left his supposedly PA protective cell to make a phone call. The public phone was near the police station and in full view of the 24-hours PA police station guards. How can Iyad be murdered so easily and so swiftly without the PA cooperation! The list goes on… but I will stop at this.
As Palestinians and even Arabs one of our problems is that we have been very forgiving of “our” leadership and the leadership know it and abuse it. Arafat and his cronies have blundered our cause so often and so much that with any other nation they would have long been tried and punished. I am not suggesting that the PA would like to see their own people being slaughtered and dispossessed. But what I am suggesting is that the PA since its inception has been motivated and controlled by very narrow, selfish and survival interest at the expense of Palestinians, their cause and their dignity. The PA’s problems are chronic and can not be rehabilitated. They are leading us nowhere and can NOT change more so than a leopard can change his spots.
In conclusion, at every interval of history we always seem to think that it is not the time to question or replace leadership. When is it ever right to question and replace a failed leadership? was it during black September! was it after Jarash Slaughter! was it during the Lebanon civil war! May be after the Lebanon invasion! may be during the Tunis era! was it during or after the Gulf war! may be during the first Intifada that was crippled and eventually stopped by the PA! or was it during the “critical” 7 years of “peace of the braves”! Is there any good time at all!
I say, any time is right to replace bankrupt leadership.
Mr. Salah Musa is a Palestinian activist and IT strategist.