New Palestinian Authority government may follow through on old promises

However, Hadye urged the new Palestinian government to be cautious and realistic or risk losing the trust of the Palestinian people.

By DIMA ABUMARIA/ THE MEDIA LINE
April 17, 2019 09:25
3 minute read.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a ceremony

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a ceremony marking the 54th anniversary of Fatah's founding, in Ramallah, December 31, 2018. (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

 
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The new Palestinian government, sworn in by Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas on April 15, will work to actualize decisions made by the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO dominates the PA and deems itself the sole legitimate voice of the Palestinian people.

Mohammed Hadye, a Palestinian political analyst based in East Jerusalem, explained to The Media Line that decisions made by both the Palestinian National Council (PNC), the legislative body of the PLO, and Palestinian Central Council (PCC), another branch of the PLO, are enforceable once issued and do not need to be brought as recommendations to the Executive Committee.

Last year, PA President Mahmoud Abbas convened the first meeting of the PNC since 2009. Top objectives included electing new members to the Executive Committee, while devising a comprehensive approach for managing the PA's relationship with the United States under President Trump’s administration – which Abbas shunned following Washington's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Also discussed was the possible retraction of the PA’s recognition of Israel and ways to resolve the decade-long division between the PA-administered West Bank and Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

However, Hadye urged the new Palestinian government to be cautious and realistic or risk losing the trust of the Palestinian people.

"The government has been responsible for managing the transitional phase following the [1993] Oslo Accords [with Israel] and, based on international law, when a party to a signed agreement violates it, the other affected party [has the right] to cancel it or modify it." Accordingly, in Hadye's estimation, the PA has every right to alter the longstanding deal, rather than cancel it altogether, given that Israel has not upheld its commitments.

By contrast, Asad al-Owiwi, another Palestinian political analyst, suggested that the Palestinian government could not cancel its recognition of Israel as doing so would negate the justification for its existence. In fact, the PA is a byproduct of the Oslo Accords, created in order to govern territories in the West Bank and Gaza captured by Israel in the 1967 war.

Role of the International Community

Hadye believes the PA must also be more pro-active in the international arena to offset support for Israel from the United States, which he claims ignores illegal actions. Furthermore, he added, “there is a significant decline in the Arab position vis-a-vis the Palestinian [struggle], as regional states are cozying up to Israel.

"We don’t hear about the Arab initiative for Palestine anymore," Hadye said, which has resulted in the Palestinians having to fight alone for their basic rights, "if anything is even left of their national project."


In a bid to alter the emerging status quo, newly-minted PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh revealed that Abbas will meet Arab foreign ministers on April 21 to encourage regional nations to abide by their promise to safeguard the Palestinian people and provide them with political and economic supports. Shtayyeh also confirmed that the PA's finance minister will attend a donor conference a week later on April 30, when Palestinian officials will attempt to raise funds to alleviate a financial crisis blamed on "the economic war that Israel and the American administration started against us."

The PA prime minister said he was "in contact with the European Union, Japan, China and the rest of our friends in the world in order to cover this deficit in the budget," and stressed the new Palestinian government will begin implementing a large-scale economic plan in the West Bank.

Finally, Shtayyeh praised the Palestinian people’s steadfastness for remaining on their land, which he claimed encourages the production needed to boost the economy.

Role of Israel in PA Economy

In July, the Israeli cabinet approved a law that slashes funds transferred to the PA in an amount equivalent to what it pays to Palestinian security prisoners and those who died in clashes, as well as their families. As such, the PA has lost at least $138 million in tax revenue and tariffs that Israel collects on its behalf.

In this respect, Owiwi highlighted that the Palestinian economy is "strongly connected to the Israel's" and thus questioned how the new government could possibly become financially independent.

He also described the "terrifying" inconsistency of the PA, evidenced by statements made by Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki to the effect that Abbas was willing to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu without preconditions.

This shows “great chaos and political contradiction," Owiwi concluded.

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