Veteran Palestinian journalist Abdel Bari Atwan says the heroic Gazans have put the Palestinian cause back in the limelight by facing down Israeli snipers during the Great March of Return
The Palestinian cause has been put back where it belongs at the heart of international attention, and the credit for that goes to the innocent people who were killed or injured while taking part in the March of Return demonstrations held in the Gaza Strip to mark Land Day.
The Palestinian people have once again demonstrated their commitment to their national rights and their rejection of Arab regime capitulation to Israel. They marched courageously and resolutely in their tens of thousands towards the border fence, instilling terror in the hearts of heavily armed Israeli soldiers, undeterred by their record of committing massacres and war crimes or by their snipers’ bullets.
There is a new spirit prevailing among the Palestinian public. It found political expression in the joint statement issued on Tuesday by the three groups most active in resistance to the occupation — the Hamas movement, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – announcing they would boycott the Palestine National Council (PNC) session which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is convening at the end of this month.
It is a spirit of rebellion against the state of paralysis – indeed of subjugation – that has prevailed for years, and against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its deceptive attempts to buy time and distract people from their core causes: the right of return and resisting Israeli colonisation and schemes to Judaise the holy places.
The three-party decision was the first fruit of the March of Return. It is particularly significant that the leftist PFLP – the second largest constituent group of the PLO – opted to join the two Islamist factions’ boycott of PA institutions that remain engaged in security coordination with Israel, and their opposition to convening the PNC – the Palestinians’ parliament-in-exile and highest decision-making body – under the spears of the occupation.
It was shameful for the PA and President Abbas to dissociate themselves from the Return marches and look the other way, as though as though they were taking place in another country and the participants were not Palestinians. Even more shameful was their complicity in tightening the siege on the Gaza Strip by reducing electricity and gas supplies and cutting public sector salaries.
The PFLP took part in the recent meetings of the PLO Central Council, and thereby provided a cloak of legitimacy to Abbas and his group. By withdrawing from this deceptive farce, it has avoided compromising itself and its long record of struggle, and reverted to the principled policies that earned it broad respect among Palestinians. It is to be hoped that it will maintain this courageous stand
until Abbas is convinced that this time things are serious, and that PNC must be convened in Beirut or anywhere else but not under Israel occupation.
There can be no credible PNC without Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PFLP taking part and without its independent members, or those who are still alive.
Abbas may cut off the monthly allowance the PLO pays to the PFLP. But this does not exceed $30,000 dollars, which would not even cover the cost of one of his presidential trips by private jet. He has done so on previous occasions when the PFLP has opposed his policies. But the homeland, the future of the Palestinian people and confronting current attempts to obliterate their cause outweigh any other consideration or amount of money.
Moreover, Abbas does not pay the PFLP or other PLO constituent groups out of his own pocket, but out of the purse of the Palestinian people. Their funds, or the funds raised in their name, must not be used to force the most principled among them to their knees.