More than any other time in the history of Palestine, there is an urgent and critical need for regime change. Let us not allow the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah efforts to secure “full recognition” at the UN from the urgent need of a regime change.
This PLO/Fatah regime, perhaps the longest running political and criminal regime and enterprise in the Middle East, much longer than Saddam Hussein Ba’athist regime, much longer than Bashar/Hafez Assad Ba’athist regime, much longer than Hosni Mubarak regime, much longer than Muamar Gaddafi regime.
This regime more than any thing else, is responsible for the reckless behavior in Jordan leaving long suffering on Palestinians in Jordan, directly responsible for the Palestinian exile from Kuwait causing immeasurable suffering and losses to more than 350,000 Palestinians. This regime simply abandoned Palestinian refugees in Lebanon leaving a weaken community to the mercy of Israel and its allies in Lebanon and never looked back and sought redress for the massacres in Sabra and Shatilla and in Tal-Za’ater.
This regime squanders tens of billions that remained unaccounted for, was never accountable to any one, never representative of any one, never elected by any one, it is regime that is self serving, self promoting , abusive of civil and human rights and in the service of the Jewish Occupation.
“How is it that by virtue of being Palestinian I am told that my ‘sole legitimate representative’ is an organization I have never subscribed to, am not a member of, and have never voted for?” These words by Samah Sabawi, the Public Advocate for Australians for Palestine best describe the feelings of millions of Palestinians around the world who questions the legitimacy of the Palestinian leadership seeking recognition for its “state” under Jewish Occupation, a “ Bantustan” a state it negotiated to manage for and on behalf of the Jewish Occupation in Oslo.
Mahmoud Abbas’ PLO regime is no different from the illegitimate and much discredited regimes of Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, Bin Ali’s Tunisia, Bashar Assad’s Syria or Gaddafi’s Libya. It was never voted on by the people inside and outside of Palestine, it never sought legitimacy from the people it claims to represent; it never made any efforts to allow free and democratic representation and always sought its “legitimacy” from outside, from organizations such as the Arab League and of course from Israel under Oslo Accord.
Over the years, the PLO and its leadership past and present proved to be a total failure, a fraud, a big lie, a “liberation” that was never there and a ‘liberation’ that was never achieved.
True, there was armed popular resistance specially while the leadership was in Lebanon, however the leadership never played a key and critical role in the fight against Israel with most of the fight and dying was done by young men and women committed to the liberation of Palestine.
While the fighting men were dying, the leadership enjoyed the good life in the hotels and brothels of Beirut, East Berlin, Prague, Moscow, Warsaw, Budapest and Baghdad among many of the places, looting the people’s treasury. Keeping in mind more Palestinians died in inter-factional fighting than in fighting Israel. Those “leaders” who survived Israeli assassinations came back to manage the Jewish Occupation!
From its inception in Jerusalem back in 1964 under the auspices of the Arab League, the PLO never lived up to its Fundamental Law as representative of all Palestinians, in Occupied Palestine, in the Occupied West Bank, in the Diaspora and in the many refugee camps in the Middle East.
The PLO regime, never made any efforts to organize direct elections, as the Iraqi government did in post Saddam (even in host countries that would allow such vote), never made efforts to seek directly its legitimacy from the people but opted to and for archaic system of proportional representation “quota” with trade unions, student unions, and “member organization” selecting their membership to the Palestine National Council (PLC), with the PNC in turn selecting the 18 members of the PLO Executive Committee. The Palestinian people inside and outside Palestine never voted for the PNC and subsequently the PLO and its present Executive Committee of Mahmoud Abbas, of Hanan Ashrawi, of Yasser Abed-Rabou of Saeb Erekat, have no legitimacy whatsoever.
Of course Oslo Accord, criminally, recklessly and incompetently negotiated by the Palestinian Trio of Arafat, Abbas & Qurai, never had authorization from the PNC and was negotiated in secret even from members of the PLO Executive Committee.
Oslo Accord turned the PLO from a “Liberation” organization to a “management company” for the Jewish Occupation, with the PLO giving full and unconditional recognition of the State of Israel with open un-defined borders. Oslo never defined the legal status of the West Bank as “occupied”, failed to define the legal status of Israel in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and of course totally ignored the Jewish Settlements. Oslo granted Israel the total and unconditional control over 58% of the Occupied Territories (Area C).
The PLO leadership also failed to include a key and critical issues of “framework of reference” from negotiations unilaterally voiding and cancelling the applicability of all international treaties, conventions, UN Security Council and UN Resolutions, and bilaterally committing to negotiations with Israel under the rules of “mutual agreement” over the final outcome of “final status” thus giving Israel a “veto”. Oslo of course excluded the key issue of refugees, excluded East Jerusalem, and Jewish Settlements, leaving these issues to the mutual agreement of Israel. That is why 20 years of negotiations and “peace process” led to nowhere.
While the PLO leadership formally committed to “bilateral negotiations” of the final status, the PLO granted to and ceded to Israel the absolute rights of “unilateral” actions on the ground including building of settlements, setting up Jewish Only Roads, setting up “security checkpoints” targeted killings, home destructions among many of the rights granted to Israel under Oslo, acts of treasons at best.
The late Yasser Arafat even went further when in the exchanged letters with Rabin termed the military and armed resistance of the PLO as acts of terror and violence. Under Oslo, Arafat committed to the safety and security of Israeli citizens both members of the Israeli Army and armed Jewish Settlers terrorists in the Occupied Territories.
Arafat made the security of the Jewish Occupation his priority, making funding, organizing and managing the Palestinian Security Forces as his top priority. That priority remained the same under Mahmoud Abbas.
Arafat and the Palestinian leadership desperate to restock and refund its bank accounts having squandered tens of billions, stolen, fleeced and recklessly “invested” negotiated a deal that allowed the PLO/Fatah to take over the operational expense and funding the civil and administrative parts of the Jewish Occupation, while Israel kept its Jewish Occupation as is. The PLO regime over the years saved Israel at least some $50 Billions since Oslo.
Oslo Accord called for the establishment of the “Palestinians Interim Self-Government Authority” or the PA. The establishment of the PA reduced and marginalized the role of the PLO and the PNC, while at the same time substantially increasing the role and power of Fatah as the effective Palestinian regime in Ramallah.
The 1977 election of Hamas as the majority within the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC) endangered the role of Fatah as a regime and as a direct financial beneficiary of the Jewish Occupation. Overt and covert cooperation with Israel, with the US, with Jordan and Egypt ended the short-term government of Hamas. Mahmoud Abbas effectively aborting the people’s vote as head of the PA suspended the PLC and began to rule with “executive orders”. Keeping in mind his term as “president” expired few years back, yet he continued to run and manage the PA.
With Fatah losing the election, the role of the PLO once again became important, critical and central to the return of Fatah regime to power with the argument that Hamas win, did not mean that Hamas is representative of the people and this role is exclusive to the PLO as the “sole and legitimate representative of the people”.
The questionable legal status and claims of the PLO as the “ sole and legitimate representative” of the Palestinian people is on its own is more than enough for the demand of a regime change.
Over the years and since its inception, the PLO leadership ran what can be termed as “armed racketeering mafia” whether this was the case in Lebanon before or after the “exile” from Lebanon, or while in Tunis, certainly the PLO/Fatah ran and is running a mafia in the Palestinian Authority with Fatah being the financial beneficiary of such racketeering operation. This is evident in the refugee camps in the West Bank and in Lebanon. It is evident in the economic and financial control and power of PLO/Fatah “associates” having substantial financial interest and control over the economy within the Palestinian territories.
Moreover the PLO and Fatah over the years never made any serious efforts to build and establish “governing institutions” leaving that task to Salam Fayyad who began to work on establishing such “governing institutions” only in the last few years. What were the PLO and Fatah doing all these years, they did not liberate, and at least they could have worked on “governing institutions”?
More troublesome is the systematic corruption reaching epidemic proportion that characterizes the nature and operation of the PLO/PA/Fatah without any serious efforts to tackle this problem and without serious efforts to recover the hundreds of millions stolen or unaccounted for since Oslo. So far no one is calling for a full accounting of the tens of the billions fleeced and disappeared from the Palestinian treasury from inception of the PLO to Oslo. Without going back to the tens of billions that simply disappeared from the Palestinian treasury.
By all accounts the PLO/PA/Fatah ran a regime not so different from the police state of Hosni Mubarak or Saddam Hussein or Bashar Assad or Bin Ali or even Muamar Gaddafi, with arbitrary arrests and detentions of citizen mostly on “political charges” with systematic use of torture, lacking independent judiciary, lacking the very basic of rights for the accused and defendants, borrowing much of the legal process from Israel and the “Mandate Laws” even using Jordanian legal system which too is lacking the basic and fundamental rules of fairness and justice. The PLO/PA/Fatah used brutal police to disburse peaceful protest and prevent peaceful assembly if that assembly is against the regime.
In conclusion, the PLO/PA/Fatah regime, not only failed to liberate, it became a managing partner for the Jewish Occupation, saving Israel tens of billions of dollars in operational costs. The PLO/PA/Fatah regime became a partner and security agent to the safety and security of the Israeli Army and the Jewish armed settlers and terrorists.
The PLO/PA/Fatah never took any measures and efforts to implement the International Court of Justice ruling of the “illegality” of the Jewish Apartheid Wall. It never took any effective measures to bring about the end of the siege of Gaza leaving that to Turkey to challenge such siege, made such a mess of the Goldstone undermining efforts to bring criminal charges against Israel and its leadership, the negotiating partners of Abbas, Quari and Erekat. It hindered efforts to establish a Palestine Documentation Center to establish a database of refugees and their properties inside Israel leading to efforts that allowed filing of legal claims of refugees to sue and recover their properties inside Israel as the Jews did in Europe.
The PLO/PA/Fatah regime failed to build solid transparent and effective governing institutions. It squandered tens of billions that remains unaccounted for, it runs a police state no different from that of Hosni Mubarak, or Bashar Assad, and most of all it lacks the legitimacy that only the people, the citizens can grant to such regime.
The PLO/PA/Fatah systematically failed to provide safety and security for the Palestinians citizens and property from confiscation, attacks and destructions by the IDF and armed settlers. The PLO/PA/Fatah totally neglected the needs and interests of the Palestinians Diaspora whether in the refugee camps in Lebanon or Syria, or in the makeshifts camps of Palestinians exiled from Iraq. It simply failed at every thing and that is enough to justify a regime change in Palestine.
Sami, a Palestinian-American and a US Army Veteran (66-68), recipient of the “soldier of the month award and leadership award from the 6th Army NCO Academy, is an international legal and business consultant with over 40 years of international experience, in construction, hospitality services, conservation, and defense, in the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. Sami is a holder of BA, MPA in Public and Environmental Affairs, Jurist Doctor from Indiana University. While at IU he was elected class president, student government president and chairman of the Indiana Students Association,
Active in peace movement as a co-author of the pre-amble for the One State for All of its people and voluntary service program SalamNation. A frequent contributor on national and international affairs. He resides in the United States.