Is the Palestinian Authority (PA) going to collapse? If not the PA, then is Fatah imploding?
No one can say for sure, but the succession of events over the past several months brings these questions to mind; questions which could drastically reshape the struggle for Palestine as we know it.
The current change in the winds began as early as this past August over the shady organizing of Fatah’s first party congress in some twenty years. Then, in October, Abbas and the PA withdrew their support for the Goldstone report, which documented Israeli war crimes during its assault on Gaza last winter. This betrayal by Abbas & co enraged Palestinians, Arab folks and Palestine solidarity organizers alike.
More recently, Abbas has announced he will retire, and Israeli liberals and US negotiators are running around frantic because Abbas is their only hope of continuing the sordid peace process without having to deal with Hamas. Shortly afterwards, Abbas began supporting a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state that would forgo the peace process and negotiations with Israel. While many have applauded this declaration as the long-awaited arrival of Palestinian liberation, in reality it would, under the current conditions, enshrine Israeli apartheid and the shattered social and political lives of Palestinians.
These fractures and desperate measures by Abbas & co have come in response to the US and Israel’s refusal to compromise during negotiations, which would have provided legitimacy for Palestinian rulers.
Since the first Intifada, Fatah has consistently compromised with Israeli apartheid and US Empire, while popular movements in Palestine have repeatedly rejected that compromise. Gains have only been made by popular self-activity on the part of everyday Palestinians. This dynamic lies at the heart of the crisis. The truth today is that Fatah no longer has any social base. These latest maneuvers by Abbas and Fatah, which treat notions of independence merely as a bargaining chip or a bureaucratic maneuver, should be interpreted in this light.
These articles help contextualize these events:
“Where is Fatah Headed?”
Here’s an article by Toufic Haddad just before the party congress this past August, which traces the increasingly authoritarian character of Fatah both internally, and in relation to the struggle for Palestine.
“Bantustans and the unilateral declaration of statehood”
This is an excellent essay by Virginia Tilley on the pitfalls and consequences of the recent “threats” to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state.
“White House Pivots on Mideast Bid”
and “Short-Term Fixes Sought in Mideast”
And for what it’s worth, the NYTimes on how the lack of direction by US Empire contributed to these latest gambits by Abbas and the PA.