By Arab News
By Daoud Kuttab and Hazem Balousha
The senior Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) figure, Maj. Gen. Jibril Rajoub, has told Arab News that the decision, announced by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to abrogate all agreements with Israel and the US was a strategic one.
Abbas made the announcement on Tuesday during a speech in Ramallah that the Palestinian Authority was absolving itself of agreements on security and administration, saying that Israel would have to take responsibility for the decision of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
“We have made a strategic decision and will be holding marathon meetings to work out the mechanism to implement this,” Rajoub said. “We will continue to contribute to regional stability and global security.”
Rajoub, who is the secretary of the PLO’s main faction, Fatah, told Arab News that its central committee would hold a critically important meeting on Thursday to discuss the implementation period. “I am certain that in the place of the Oslo Accords, the role of the PLO will be enhanced and popular nonviolent struggle will be escalated.”
Asaad Abdel Rahman, a former PLO executive committee member, told Arab News: “The leadership must agree to enhance the role of the PLO — our representative body and our final refuge.” Abdel Rahman conceded that the idea of having new elections was a good idea, but said that it was not currently feasible. “You need to go with what you have now and wait for the right movement to re-energize the organization,” he said.
Abdel Rahman added that Israel had squandered the opportunity to work productively with the most moderate of all Palestinian leaders. “Abbas is the most moderate leader Israel has dealt with for decades. They are making a terrible mistake by pushing him in this direction. The Israeli piracy of our lands is nothing less than an international scandal that no one can accept.”
Anis F. Kassim, publisher of the Palestine Yearbook of International Law, told Arab News that the Palestinian leadership was in danger of losing all legitimacy by canceling agreements with Israel without having an alternative. “The leadership needs to quickly seek some way of restoring the legitimacy derived from the public, because they can no longer claim their legitimacy from the signed agreements with Israel and the US,” he warned.
“The ruling elite has lost their legitimacy; they don’t have popular support and now they have lost the Oslo Accords which gave them some legitimacy. The next time they go to collect taxes people will ask on what basis should they pay. If their decision is genuine, they need to find a way quickly to regain the support of the people.”
Kassim said that for the time being, those in power could run things like “an ad-hoc management body” but they needed either internal elections or elections for the Palestinian National Council, or both, to avoid a “legal black hole.”
Diana Buttu, former legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team, told Arab News that the real test would be the reaction of the global community. “It is a question of whether the world will continue to support Palestinians even without the Oslo Accords.”
Abbas’ decision, meanwhile, triggered mixed reactions in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas considered the decision in line with its stance, and called for its implementation on the ground.
“The declaration of a total break from the Oslo agreement, and the consequent security and political deals, the foremost of which is security coordination with the occupation forces, needs implementation on the ground through clear and specific steps,” a Hamas statement said.
It added: “This trend confirms the correctness of the movement’s positions and the forces of resistance from this ominous agreement 27 years ago.”
Describing negotiations as absurd, Hamas urged the Palestinian leadership to refrain from adopting further negotiation.
“Hamas believes that facing the project of annexation and the ‘Deal of the Century’ requires a national struggle at all levels through an integrated plan agreed upon by the leaders of the Palestinian factions and all popular forces,” it added.
The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) expressed support for the decision, but demanded its effective implementation.
“Translating this decision calls for a series of procedures and steps without delay, and within a specific time,” a DFLP statement said
It asked the PLO for “immediate withdrawal of the recognition of the state of Israel until it recognizes a Palestinian state as per the borders of June 4, 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital.”
Israel should also stop settlements and cancel its annexation project, it added.
Zulfkar Swirjo, a writer affiliated with the DFLP, said Abbas’s statement was not definitive, especially since the decision was not presented to all Palestinian factions.
“The statement did not touch on restoring the cohesion of the Palestinian political system, in order to confront any upcoming issues,” he said.