שר החוץ האמריקני קרי אמור להגיע לירושלים ולרמאללה כדי להתניע את השיחות הישירות בין ישראל לפלסטינים, אבל עד רגע זה לא נקבע בואו. ברור שהוא ניצב מול דילמה- מהי?
אשף רוצה לדחוק את הרשות הפלסטינית לפינה ולהשתלט על מקורות הכוח- והמימון הכספי. האם קרי יסכים לכך? האם הוא יהיה מוכן לוותר על עקרונות אמריקניים וותיקים כדי להניע שיחות שלום?
על כך במאמר באנגלית.
The Palestinian governmental crisis- will it lead to the resumption of talks with Israel?
The governmental crisis in the Palestinian Authority is deeper than just a focused problem of composition of a certain government but it is a deep constitution crisis that shed question marks on the very legitimation of the Palestinian Authority. This may enforce Abu Mazen to return to negotiations with Israel in order to renew his legitimation in the west.
What is the problem of legitimation? Abu Mazen presidency is now far overdue behind being re-elected as president; the Palestinian Legislation Council- PLC does not function and Gaza under Hamas does not obey him and run a separate government that is mobilizing recognition on the expense of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
The Palestinian Authority is part of the Oslo agreement and meant to serve as interim tool for self-government until final agreement for permanent settlement is achieved.
On the other hand- the PLO is the ultimate source of legitimacy and the Palestinians tried to disconnect the PA from the authority of the agreement with Israel and subordinate it to the PLO.
This is exactly the core of the problem now. After the recognition in the UN as observer state, the Palestinians tried to get legitimation directly from the UN bypassing the Oslo agreement's legitimation. The "observer status" instead of "full membership" meant to keep the status of the PLO in place in order to preserve the supreme legitimacy of the PLO over the PA.
This strategy collided with the visions of the west for the Palestinian future as was apparent in Secretary of State, John Kerry's speech in Davos Forum in Jordan. He was speaking in terms of encouraging the private sector and civil society far from the "struggle" agenda of the PLO and Fatah. To make this point clearer he invited to the podium the Nablus tycoon, Munib al-Masri, the head of Padico – Palestinian Development and Investment Co. – that represent the independent non-PLO Palestinian private sector.
The problem is that PADICO is in competition with the governmental economic body—PIF – Palestinian Investment Fund. For many reasons the west and the donors community do not trust PIF and perceives it as non-transparent and too close to Fatah and to Abu Mazen himself. It wants the Palestinians to advance towards statehood through encouraging the middle class, the private sector and civil society on the expense of the PLO and the notion of the "struggle."
In practical terms the clash of visions was behind the Rami Hamdallah crisis. According to Palestinian sources the fresh new Prime Minister discovered upon launching his term in office a letter signed by Abu Mazen that notify the donors' community that the Palestinian authorized side to sign economic agreements and transaction is his deputy, Muhammad Mustafa who is also the director of PIF. He called Abu Mazen for clarifications and was told that Muhammad Mustafa is the authorized party to sign in his capacity as the head of the finance department of the PLO.
The donors' community knew this problem as the Oslo agreement was signed between Israel and PLO; hence the PLO was the legal party for all economic transactions. However, the donors' community although did not like this reality – tried to reconcile with it. They demanded that the former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will have the signature authority as PLO director of finance department although he was not a PLO member. Now, after his removal – Abu Mazen was quick to reclaim the finance department back to the PLO and put the donors' community in a dilemma- and of course the new prime minister that found his authorities deduced in comparison to Fayyad's.
When deciding on Hamdallah as successor to Fayyad, Abu Mazen neglected to evaluate his closeness to Nablus economic aristocracy, and the Masri's world-embracing empire. Fayyad is close to this aristocracy and Hamdallah in his capacity as the president of Najah University – as well. This institute is financed by Sabih al-Masri, Munib's cousin and actually upon the reports that he was going to be nominated as Prime Minister, Sabih arrived to Nablus and we evaluate that he warned him against damaging PADICO interests.
In addition, all Fayyad's closest personnel were left in place in Prime Ministry office and they also protected PADICO's interests as opposed to PIF's.
This was the reason why Abu Mazen wanted to move the prime minister as well as the two deputies to the Muqata'a, but as part of his understanding with Hamdallah- he will keep the office of Fayyad.
Despite accepting the resignation- Hamdallah is going to stay in place in the near future – a situation that is weakening further the entire constitutional foundation of the PA.
Now, Kerry is about to arrive to Ramallah as matter of couple of days and he also has to decide whether to accept Abu Mazen's empowerment of the PLO on the expense of the PA in its economic perspectives- or to ignore it – and proceed. My guess- the peace process is so dear to him that he will ignore. Will it bring Abu Mazen to decide on returning to negotiations? We inclined to answer: yes. He told his close associates in the Muqata'a: we cannot say no the Kerry. On the same time he cannot decline his demand to base the negotiations on 1967 borders, so we cannot guess how Kerry can square the circle. But for Abu Mazen renewing the negotiations is kind of reclaiming western legitimacy after the Hamdallah fiasco.
Sum up: the Hamdallah fiasco exposed the basic constitutional weakness of the PA. Returning to negotiations can refresh its legitimacy in the west, but the Palestinians try to give back legitimacy to the PLO which means empowering the Fatah's economic toll – the PIF on the expense of the private sector. Our guess is that Kerry will overlook this "tiny" issue and if circumstances compel the parties to meet- he will sacrifice the old principles.