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The Palestinian Central Council Meeting: to be Held in Vain?

Palestinian Central Council Meeting
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas speaks during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah on August 15, 2018. ABBAS MOMANI / AFP

Majed Kayali

The Palestinian Central Council will hold a series of meetings in Ramallah on Feb. 6, 2022, to discuss the situation in Palestine, the reality of the PLO and the Authority, and how to deal with Israeli policies. Though, nothing is to be expected from these meetings.

Perhaps what is supposed to be clarified regarding the conclusion above is that this meeting comes three years after the previous meeting in late 2018. That means that there are no regular meetings for this body that replaced the Palestinian National Council, the supreme legislative body of the PLO, which was marginalised mainly in favour of the Authority.

We must recall that the National Council has held only two sessions since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority nearly three decades ago. The 21st and 23rd sessions were held respectively in 1996 and 2018. Concerning the 22nd session, it was an exceptional one meant to restore the membership of the Executive Committee.

Secondly, the next meeting has only for functional purposes. This meeting depends on the mood of Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian president might use it to pass specific political messages, renew legitimacy, or enhance the position of the dominant class in the Palestinian Authority. Abbas used the same approach in the Fatah Central Committee meeting. During that meeting, a couple of Fatah members were selected to fill the vacancies in the leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation.

Thirdly, there is no political influence expected from this meeting, as there is practically no indication for that. Moreover, according to reality, all the decisions taken by the Central Council in its previous sessions are referred to the Executive Committee, which disregards them, or the president himself cancels them. That is the case with all the decisions taken since 2015 to stop security coordination, hold elections, or end the division.

Fourth, most Palestinian factions will not participate in this meeting, detracting from its legitimacy and seriousness.

In any case, and above all the previous clarifications, any statement or option probably adopted in the meeting will face several problems, the most important of which are:

First, there is a wide gap between Palestinian societies and Palestinian leaders, inside and abroad. There is a great sense of loss, confusion, desperation, and an absence of reference and national consensus.

Secondly, regardless of the leadership seriousness, there is a factional reality that cannot carry out any struggle. The factions have long ago aged and eroded, not to mention that the decline of their position in Palestinian societies and their role in confronting Israel has faded. It is not possible to place political visions or new struggle options on old, expendable pillars, or who no longer have anything to offer or add to the Palestinian national work after this experience, and after all the changes and transformations related to the Palestinian cause and the international and regional influences on it.

Third, the Palestinian leadership – i.e., the leadership of the PLO, the Palestinian Authority and Fatah – has not prepared itself or its people for any political change, neither in terms of improving the Palestinian situation nor in terms of confronting Israel’s colonial, settlement and racist policies, including the advancement of settlements, house demolitions, land confiscation and the continuation of the siege on Gaza.

Fourth, the international and regional facts are inappropriate for the Palestinians, mainly because of the state and societal rift in the Arab Orient, the indifference of the rest of the world, and the preoccupation of Arab countries with their problems, including the rising dangers of Iranian influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

All of these restricting and limiting problems are due to the choices taken by the Palestinian leadership. This leadership took erroneous and unilateral bets. Therefore, it is noticeable that Palestinians, first, agree on rebuilding the Palestinian house: the PLO, the PA and the factions. In addition, Palestinians want to end the harmful and destructive division.

Second, Palestinians need political visions that restore unity between the question of Palestine, its people and land. These political visions have to answer the various issues facing Palestinian communities, including the Palestinian refugees, the Palestinians of the 1967 occupied territories, and the Palestinians of the 1948 regions).

Third, adopting forms of action and methods of struggle that are proportional to the Palestinians’ capabilities and circumstances, enhancing their steadfastness, and rebuilding political entities so that they carry and implement these visions.

It is evident that this requires holding more than just a meeting of the Central Council, as all of this requires holding conferences or forums for influential Palestinian figures, including business people, academics, intellectuals and artists, to enhance their participation and representation in the Palestinian work.

Because providing answers to the complex questions of reality requires a persistent collective effort and forums for discussion, which unfortunately is not appropriately available in the fragmented Palestinian situation, in light of the faction’s domination of the public sphere and the transformation of the Palestinian national movement from a national liberation movement to authority under occupation.

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The opinions expressed in this publication are those of our bloggers. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Fanack or its Board of Editors.

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