Will the crisis of legitimacy ultimately topple the Palestinian Authority? all sides of the triangle of Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinians, are supposed to go through difficult days
Date: 04/12/2022 Time: 11:29
By Pinhas Inbari
The results of the elections in Israel and the upcoming of the new government plunge Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Jordan into crises of legitimacy that are still too early to assess how they will end. In Israel, a government elected by a majority of only half a people are trying to change the Israeli character of the country to a Jewish one, with half a people vibrating to take to the streets to thwart this dramatic change, which would put the new government in a position of illegitimacy to make far-reaching moves, but the declaration of its intentions even before it took office had already caused crises of legitimacy in the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. Let’s start with Jordan.
The transformation of Ben-Gvir, the perpetrator of the riots on the Temple Mount, into the right hand of prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu puts the legitimacy of the Hashemite crown in Jordan in question. The Hashemite family is not Jordanian but originates from Mecca, the Hejaz, and the source of its legitimacy is that it protects the holy places. In Mecca, she was the guardian of the Kaaba and al-Madinah, and when she was ousted by the Saudis at the beginning of the last century, she adopted the protection of the al-Aksa mosque, and the peace agreements with Israel are based on the status arrangements between Israel and the Waqf.
The transformation of Ben-Gvir into the minister responsible for the arrangements in the mosque plaza, while the most radical Jewish groups being an integral part of his political fabric, means that Jordan has failed in its role as defender of the holy sites in Jerusalem, and hence the basis of its legitimacy among the tribes of Jordan has been undermined. The result was that last week the head of the Sakhar tribe, Trad Fayez, appeared at a Muslim Brotherhood rally asserting the defense of al-Aksa and in support of the Lion’s Den.
In other words, if the Hashemite crown did not protect al-Aksa, the Jordan tribes with the Muslim Brotherhood will do it. The Sakhar tribe is the most important in the Bedouin’s support of the regime. Its sons are the soldiers of the Jordanian army, which is spread out along our long border and removes the burden of protecting it from IDF. When he came to Hebron to mediate between the clans of Qawasmeh and Ja’bri, he said inappropriate things about instead of fighting between them, the two clans should turn their energies against Israel. Israel, of course, could not go over this in silence, but instead of discreet messages, Minister Ayelet Shaked was swept away by the hysteria on the networks and, in a demonstrative move, announced the ban on the sheik’s entry into Israel.
Someone should have told her that this tribe is spread out along the border with Israel, and between the “national honor” and the vital interests, sometimes the real interests also have weight. The Palestinian Authority has also found itself in a crisis of legitimacy. Its state of legitimacy is extremely low, and its prestige on the Palestinian street is constantly declining. The last blow to its legitimacy was when, at the last minute, it canceled the general elections that were supposed to renew its legitimacy, In the image of a corrupt authority evading elections, the source of legitimacy that remains is the Oslo Accords.
Although the PA abused and revoked these agreements, it was officially established by these agreements and they are the source of legitimacy that remains. Now, when Israel, for its part, cancels the agreements and takes a series of steps that contradict the agreements, especially the intention to abolish the Civil Administration, to transfer it from the IDF to the settlers, Israel is annexing the territories, and the PA remains without a source of legitimacy.
The PA has two choices: either to return to the source of legitimacy of the PLO – the armed struggle, but this slot is already occupied by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Besides, the military PLO has degenerated and does not have the logistical home front in the Arab world that he had during Arafat’s time. The Palestinian Authority’s response is to adhere to the Oslo Accords, and to turn the tables on Israel – Mahmoud Abbas’ close associate, Azzam al-Ahmad, was sent to Beirut to ask Islamic Jihad and Hamas to refrain now from terrorist attacks in Israel to allow Palestinian diplomacy to intensify the political struggle against Israel in the UN, in The Hague and the BDS, so that the international community would impose sanctions on Israel.
Islamic Jihad rejected the appeal, and the Hamas responsible on the West Bank, Saleh Arouri, refrained from meeting Mahmoud Abbas’ envoy. Will the crisis of legitimacy ultimately topple the Palestinian Authority? It is difficult to know, but all sides of the triangle of Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinians, are supposed to go through difficult days.
Pinhas Inbari is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper, and currently serves as an analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.