Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attends a ceremony in Ramallah.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian leadership in Ramallah is considering dismantling the Palestinian Authority, if there is no political horizon to establish an independent Palestinian state, Ahmad Majdalani, a confidant of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said on Wednesday, a day before senior Trump administration officials are due in Ramallah.
“This option is being discussed and considered seriously. We are studying its political, legal, administrative implications,” Majdalani told The Jerusalem Post in a phone interview. “If there is no political horizon, we are not going to be agents of the occupation – we are not going to help General Poli.”
Maj.-Gen. Yoav “Poli” Mordechai, coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT), runs the Defense Ministry’s unit in charge of overseeing civil affairs in the West Bank.
Al-Hayat, a London-based publication, first reported on Wednesday morning that the Palestinian leadership is weighing the possibility of dissolving the PA, citing anonymous sources.
Palestinian leaders including Abbas and top negotiator Saeb Erekat have said several times in the past that if the peace process fails to produce a Palestinian state, the Palestinian leadership would dissolve the PA. However, after the failure of negotiations in 2011 and again in 2014, the Palestinian leadership did not dissolve the PA.
Majdalani, who also is a PLO Executive Committee member, said that if the Palestinian leadership decides to dissolve the PA, Israel would become responsible for delivering services to Palestinians.
“Israel would have to take charge of providing services in security, education, health and so forth,” he said.
The PA’s annual budget is approximately $4 billion and much of it is expended on services for Palestinians in the West Bank, namely in areas under its control, and in the Gaza Strip.
Both COGAT and the Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on Majdalani’s remarks.
Majdalani added that dismantling the PA would not spell the end of the Palestinian leadership.
“The PLO Executive Committee and the Palestinian National Council are the sole representatives of the Palestinian people and will undertake their responsibilities,” he said.
The Executive Committee is the PLO’s top body and the PNC is considered the PLO’s parliament. Abbas, who serves as PLO chairman, is trying to organize a meeting of the Palestinian National Council to elect a new Executive Committee.
Ghaith al-Omari, a former adviser to Abbas and currently a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, questioned the seriousness of Majdalani’s comments.
“PA leaders have been threatening this option for a long time, but they know that if they dismantle PA it will spell out the end of the Palestinian national movement: The PLO is too weak to take over and Fatah has become indistinguishable from the PA,” Omari said in an email, adding, “The only thing such a statement does is to further erode the already-shaky credibility of the PA among Palestinians.”
Majdalani’s comments come as Palestinian officials are expressing concerns about the Trump administration’s plans to renew peace negotiations.
Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad told official PA television on Monday that information available to him indicates the Americans do not have a “clear” vision for reviving peace talks.
Majdalani, Ahmad and other members of the Palestinian leadership want the US to endorse the two-state solution and ask Israel to stop building settlements.
“If the administration cannot take these positions, then there will be no peace process, no negotiations, and no American patronage,” Majdalani said.