Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa

A Discussion about the Option of Dissolving the Palestinian Authority

Dissolving the Palestinian Authority
Palestinian pupils arrive on the first day of school in Ramallah city in the occupied West Bank on August 17, 2021, following months of closure due to the spread of coronavirus. ABBAS MOMANI / AFP

Majed Kayali

All people agree that the Palestinian situation has become painful, harsh, and very complex. However, what exacerbates all of this is not the disagreement between the Palestinians, which is normal. Instead, it’s their division, the absence of legal frameworks and collective institutions, the poor management. What makes things more difficult is the lack of clarity in options, whether in the reconciliation, the resistance, or the Authority.

Therefore, the Palestinian public circles have recently discussed the option of dissolving the Palestinian Authority. These discussions were not the first of their kind. However, this time they have had a more urgent shape. The urgency of these discussions came for two reasons: challenging against Israel and its colonial and settler policies, and facing the crises that afflicted the Palestinian Authority after the riots of Jerusalem and the suspension of elections, the war on Gaza, and the murder of the Palestinian activist Nizar Banat.

However, the option of dissolving the Palestinian Authority is neither simple nor an ordinary matter, as it raises many questions. For instance, does this mean the permanent undermining of the emerging political entity in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and wasting this achievement that Israel is already working to bury despite the inequalities it contains? And will Hamas, which holds the reins over Gaza, be committed to this option? Then are there no real options between the current reality (an authority that obeys the occupation) and the final dissolution of the Authority? What about 250,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza employed in the civil and military corps of the Authority? Moreover, what is the alternative strategy? Or what comes after the dissolution of the PA?

It is unfortunate and disturbing that no one of the activists or intellectuals who spoke about this option can answer any of these questions. It raises concerns again about the pattern options are presented in the Palestinian sphere, which often come in a moody, hasty, and irresponsible manner, or as emotional and immediate reactions.

Concerning the option of dissolving the Palestinian Authority, we have to note that other alternative options can serve the same purpose and more, but without offering Israel the gift of ending the Palestinian political entity.

Thus, instead of dissolving the Authority, it can sever its negotiating and security function with Israel and cancel unfair economic agreements. By following this method, the PA would collectively manage a state of civil disobedience against the occupation. Instead of ending this political entity, it may turn into one that organizes or manages the Palestinian affairs in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It may secure the requirements for the Palestinians there to endure facing the occupation. Such a thing might include leading the popular resistance against it. Instead of Abu Mazen‘s resignation, we should examine renewing the leadership’s institutions and frameworks. We have to consider rebuilding the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and reviving its youth. We need to evolve it through democratic and institutional means and elections, especially the National Council elections.

Another option is getting rid of the harmful link between the PLO and the Authority. On the one hand, we need to deal with the Palestinian Authority as an entity meant for the Palestinians residing in the West Bank and Gaza. On the other hand, we have to treat the PLO as an entity for all Palestinians and manages their struggle against Israel. Therefore, the PLO have to disclaim its responsibility for managing the Authority while maintaining it as a political reference.

For me, the Palestinians cannot have extreme ends. They cannot shift from a radical and unilateral option like dependence on negotiations to another radical alternative like dissolving the Authority. It is not the way to deal with the Israeli challenges. Instead, the Authority should be a challenge that symbolizes the political existence of the Palestinians and consolidates their propensity to liberate themselves from colonialism and racism, provided that the Palestinian national movement restores its nature as a national liberation movement.

The Palestinians may pursue other options with this option as well. The list includes stopping the negotiations permanently. The Palestinians might plead their case to the global community to enforce resolutions related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and impose an international mandate on the occupied lands as a transitional phase. In addition to all of the above, some steps can be taken towards the restoration of national unity, activation of the PLO, and rebuilding the Palestinian house (the PLO, the Authority, the factions, and the collective organizations and institutions) on national, institutional, representative and democratic bases. Such an approach means formulating a clear political and struggle strategy attractive to the Palestinians wherever they are, especially refugees, who seem to be outside the existing political and struggle equations.

Moreover, there is the possibility of opening national options, from a state in the West Bank and Gaza (the separation solution) to the struggle for a single, democratic, secular state for Palestinians and Israelis. That last option has become more acceptable after the Arab democratic popular revolutions that are open for the idea of equality in citizenship throughout the region.


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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