Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 14th, 2023

Last month, as the people of Hawara set out to collect the shattered pieces of their lives after a 5-hour pogrom by Jewish settlers the night prior, officials from the Palestinian Authority (PA) were busy parroting the familiar rhetoric of condemnation.

PA spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeinehaccused Benjamin Netanyahu’s ultranationalist government of plotting a “dangerous escalation.” He said: “this threatens to inflame the situation and destroy all efforts aimed at restoring stability.” (Stability in sustaining the Palestinian Authority employees their salary?)

Simultaneously, the Secretary General of the PLO’s Executive Committee, Hussein al-Sheikh, said the PA would go to the Security Council to demand international protection for Palestinians.

Palestinian officials like to think of their work as diplomatic resistance. That is, they employ the various legal and political instruments available to them under international law to hold Israel accountable.

The fact that Israel disapproves of such endeavours, occasionally referring to them as ‘diplomatic terror,’ further legitimises such rhetoric.

“If anything, the internationalisation of Palestinian politics has come with certain prerequisites and expectations, which limited the PA’s scope of manoeuvrability and trivialised any meaningful modes of resistance available to it”

PA diplomacy did indeed score certain successes.

These include acquiring membership in multiple international bodies, including the ICC, and expanding the list of countries recognising the state of Palestine.

At home, however, these successes are perceived as mostly symbolic victories over pragmatic ones. They have done very little to change the Palestinian daily reality under occupation.

Nowadays,, PA officials advocate popular resistance as the only constructive resistance against Israel. During the PLO Central Committee’s 31st meeting last year, Abbas reiterated the PA’s commitment to ‘popular resistance’ as the sole means to achieve self-determination.

At the time referring to the settler violence in Nablus, Abbas called upon the Palestinian authorities to strengthen popular resistance, while stressing the importance of preserving law and order.

The Palestinian president is a long-time proponent of popular resistance. Though, he recently insinuated his conviction could change if Israel continued to drift into fascism.

Abbas believes the alternative, be it armed or violent resistance, has given Israel an exit from any legal commitments under Oslo and tarnished the Palestinian struggle internationally.

Popular resistance has always been a core part of the struggle against Zionism, becoming especially visible during the First Intifada (1987-1993). (Wrong. the first was in 1936).

But when Abbas speaks of popular resistance, he probably has in mind the model that emerged in the northern West Bank’s villages in 2000 to confront the settler attacks and land usurpation.

Even if this is the case, the PA’s notion of popular resistance is fluid and amorphous. It mostly serves as a political tactic to pressure the US, EU, and Israel into renewing the ‘political process.’ (What process?)

But most of the popular movements on the ground against Israel’s occupation distance themselves from the PA and other political parties, which they see as selling out the Palestinian cause.

Palestinian author Mutasem Hamada explains that when PA officials participate in popular activities – be it demonstrations against the Apartheid Wall or the uprooting of communities in the Jordan Valley – one of their goals is to control the extent of protests, not promote them.

In other cases, PA security forces are deployed to suppress such activities, as happened early this month when they cracked down on the funeral of a Palestinian killed during an Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp.

Mourners responded with angry slogans, calling PA officials ‘spies for Israel.

The PA said the security forces intervened to stop a group of mourners unrelated to the family from snatching and carrying the body. The protesters disagreed.

Incidents like that are one more reason for the Palestinian public to detest the PA leadership, accusing many of them of treason.

The reality is that the PA’s seemingly split-personality approach toward popular resistance is less about ‘purposeful treason’ and more about being stuck in an Oslo institutional trap that has undermined Palestinian national interests.

On paper, Oslo reconfigured the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians from occupier-occupied to ‘partners in peace.’ It textually eliminated the asymmetry but without physically ending the brutal military occupation, and administrative detention of youth and released prisoners..

Since 1994, the settler population in the West Bank has increased fourfold, land confiscation has escalated, the system of Apartheid has persisted, and the Oslo temporary division of the West Bank into areas A, B, and C deepened.

Today, very few Jewish Israelis talk about relinquishing the territories or dividing Jerusalem, let alone pursuing a two-state solution.

After all, managing the occupation and outsourcing much of its burden to the PA has proven too convenient and cost-effective.

Oslo blurred the distinction between the PA and PLO and triggered institutional ambiguity. The conflation of these bodies made challenging Israel’s occupation harder.

Under Oslo, the PA is subject to Israel’s influence and conditions. It is also reliant on mostly Western funding and support, and those come with preconditions favouring Israel’s security requirements.

On both accounts, the PLO is/should be ‘theoretically’ free from pressure. But, in reality, the PA leadership is the same as the PLO leadership and operates in the same place.

Whatever coercive measures applied to the PA curb the functionality of the PLO. Think of how many times the PLO’s Central Council failed to force the PA to end security coordination with Israel as per public demand.

The PA now eclipses the PLO in importance and reigns supreme in the foreign policy arena. What has transpired is a pseudo-state, lacking sovereignty and independent decision-making, and constantly trapped in a pit of financial and political blackmail.

With the absence of an alternative, the PA now has very little motivation to abandon the status quo, even if it means remaining subcontractors to the occupier. This status quo – or rather, comfort zone – has proven highly beneficial for its elite, both economically and politically.

Proactively investing in a well-organised popular resistance movement carries the risk of running counter to the current power structure and undermining the hierarchy of privileges, which the PA has consolidated over the past 29 years.

Palestinian national interests and the will of the people are considered only when they fit this skewed scheme of personal realpolitik. They very rarely do. It’s no wonder that most Palestinians see the PA as collaborators in their oppression.

Dr Emad Moussa is a researcher and writer who specialises in the politics and political psychology of Palestine/Israel.

Follow him on Twitter: @emadmoussa

Have questions or comments? Email us at:

Israeli settler pogroms: A foundation of the Zionist state. Tara Alami

Israel’s protests: A revolt for the status quo. Ben White




May 2023

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