Palestinian Authority announced that it has decided to postpone the parliamentary election indefinitely. Though Abbas has blamed the Israelis policies for this sudden change, experts believe that Hamas’s surging popularity is the reason behind such a decision.
Back in January, for the first time since 2006, Palestinian Authority announced that it would seek to hold its parliamentary election in spring. Aside from its effects on cementing Palestine as a legal state within the international community, a parliamentary election would ensure that the ideological division between those who deem themselves the leaders and protectors of the Palestinian cause could be resolved peacefully and through a democratic process. Unfortunately, the current caretakers of Palestine, who have fallen out of the people’s favour because of their leniency, have decided to postpone the election indefinitely.
Last Thursday, President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, announced the news himself. Abbas has argued that the Israeli government’s refusal to allow voting in Jerusalem has prompted them to do so. In a speech given in Ramallah, Abbas said “We decided to postpone the legislative election until guaranteeing that Jerusalem and its people can take part in it. We won’t be giving up Jerusalem”. The reality however is quite different from the narrative Abbas is trying to sell to the people of Palestine and his political opponents. In fact, thanks to the numerous political blunders during these recent months, Abbas and Fatah in particular have little to no chance of securing a victory for themselves in the upcoming election.
For starters, the Palestinian Authority failed to support its people with regards to the incident with Lehava. Unlike Hamas and other Palestinian groups who responded to the Israelis violence in kind, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority chose silence over that of action, preferring not to infuriate the Israeli government at such a time. This kind of lenient attitude was not so warmingly received by the Palestinians who had to spend a couple of nights in hospitals, drinking from straws. The other reason lies in the schism that has gripped Fatah as of late. Right now, the once united Fatah is splintered into three major factions: Abbas’s faction, Barghouthis’ and Dahlan’s. Both aforementioned individuals once proudly served under Abbas’s leadership but as time went by, they became disillusioned with him, each creating their own splinter faction within the party, each with vast differing ideologies. Barghouthi is currently one of the most popular figures in Palestine, who has urged for a Third Intifada after claiming that Abbas had corrupted the party by aligning himself with Israelis. Mohammad Dahlan on the other hand, seems to be getting on better terms with Israelis, but even he claims that Abbas has basically hijacked Fatah to pursue his own personal agenda, not willing or capable of reaching a compromise with their enemies.
Not all of Abbas’s opponents have kept their silence with regards to this decision however. Hamas in particular has voiced its displeasure over Abbas’s autonomous ruling. In a statement released not long after the announcement, Hamas said that Fatah and its chairman have clearly decided to disrupt the Palestinian election which is no less than “a coup against the path of national partisanship and consensus”. Hamas didn’t play coy with calling out Fatah for its duplicity, saying that the authority and Fatah were disrupting the election for “calculations other than that of the situation in Jerusalem”. Aside from Hamas, other groups such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine have also derided Fatah, calling for adherence to the national agreement, promising to use all powers within their capacity to reverse the postponement.
The situation in Palestine, as we perceive it today, is a grim reminder of the line of thinking that promoted appeasement without interaction. For so many years, Fatah was the flag-bearer of Palestinian cause, working shoulder to shoulder with other groups to restore what was once lost. Years of leniency and the need to be “legitimately” recognized as the representative of the Palestinian people took its tool on the will of their leaders, eroding their determination to see their people free. For that, the people have decided to put their trust in groups like Hamas and the Popular Front, knowing that no matter what, they won’t be laying down their arms as long as there are people out there yearning for their home. That brings us together to the question here; If a caretaker can no longer do his duties efficiently, is it right for him to deny his betters the chance to see if they could do justice? It is up to Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to figure out the answer to that.