London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Despite a number of denials by members of Fatah Movement regarding Israeli press reports that Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas intends on dissolving the Palestinian Authority [PA], sources have stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that President Abbas intends on reverting the situation in the Palestinian territories to what it had been before the creation of the PA in 1994, which means handing over the management affairs of the West Bank to the administration of the Israeli occupation, which means, in other words, dissolving the PA.
Asharq Al-Awsat has learned from a high-ranking Palestinian source that Abbas has recently sent two messages that include this idea to the government of Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv and the US Administration. This has been confirmed by a source of the Fatah Central Committee, but the difference between the two sources is that the first speaks about written correspondence while the second talks about verbal exchanges.
However, the two sources agreed on the identities of the conveyers of the these two messages since the message to Israel was conveyed by Hussein al-Sheikh, member of Fatah Central Committee and the official in charge of civil affairs in the PA who is responsible for coordination with the Israeli Civil Administration. As for the message to the United States, it was conveyed by Saeb Erekat, the PLO chief negotiator and member of Fatah Central Committee.
According to the high-ranking source, this is an important, serious, sudden step, which President Abbas spoke about, and it will be revealed within a month (which means soon after the Security Council votes on the UN membership request for the state of Palestine, the discussion on which is scheduled to start on 11 November). Abbas spoke about this step in an interview with an Egyptian satellite channels a few days ago, and repeated it in his speech at the Revolutionary Council of Fatah Movement, which began its meetings in Ramallah last Wednesday night and concluded yesterday with a joint-final statement.
During his visit to New York to submit the application of Palestine to the United Nations last September, Abbas told Asharq Al-Awsat that actually a National Authority [PA] does not exist and he is not going to accept to carry out the tasks of a head of municipality.
The contents of these messages are the same, according to the two sources who differed on some words, since the Fatah source said that the two messages do not at all include the phrase of dissolving the PA “because we are against dissolving the PA, which we consider a national achievement, but they speak about the collapse of the PA, and the occupation [authority] assuming its role.” The Fatah source added that “Hussein al-Sheikh informed the Israelis to prepare themselves to receive these administrations and what they handed over to us (which means after Oslo Accords) because we do not work for them”
The source added: “Hussein al-Sheikh told the Israelis that we are going to return the 3,000 rifles that you allowed for us (in reference to halting the security coordination).” The official said that “this talk in this way means that the PA does not exist, and therefore, let the occupation authority return to shoulder its responsibilities in the Palestinian territories.”
As for the second source who expressed his strong rejection of dissolving the PA in any way, he said that the messages speak about handing over the authority to Israel. He added that the talk about handing over or returning the authority to Israel “is understood as if the authority was given to us as a gift, and that we are returning this gift to it.” The source expressed his rejection of such a tendency even if it is said only as a warning, pointing out that many people who discuss such ideas do not weigh up the dimensions of such a step.”
The Israeli Hebrew-language e newspaper, Ma’ariv, quoted a Palestinian official, whom it described as a senior official, as saying that the PA has worked out a plan that is kept in the drawers to dissolve the PA within months if its efforts to obtain the UN membership fail.
According to this official, the plan has been worked out at the request of president Abbas, and it calls for transferring the health, educational, and tourism affairs to Israel and the process would end with Israel also assuming the security responsibility in the Palestinian territories.
The official said that the idea of dissolving the PA has been presented to the members of Fatah Central Committee and won their support. However, the Palestinian official emphasized that no decision to this effect has thus far been made.
Mahmud al-Alul, member of Fatah Central Committee, told the private Palestinian Ma’an News Agency that the option of dissolving the PA is unlikely, and that “what is intended is a call to illustrate the situation as one without an authority and an authority without a sovereignty and without powers and is under the control of the occupation, which confiscated its jurisdictions to empty it of its contents.” Al-Alul added: “There is a call, not to dissolve the PA, but to show its situation and how to struggle to restore its sovereignty and confront the occupation, and to show dissatisfaction with the fait accompli.” In face of this difficult situation, as he said, the leadership is searching for solutions, and the dissolving of the PA is not one of them.”
Al-Alul disclosed that many ideas are under discussion, and some people think of an international custodianship, others think of options that are related to resisting the occupation, and some think of one state, while others think of getting rid of all previous commitments, and some people think of returning the issue to new terms of references, such as the United nations.
Answering a question if the option of dissolving the PA is in the hand of president Abbas, Al-Alul said: “Yes, if we want this, the option of dissolving it would become in our hands, particularly since we started to tend to rebel against capitulation to the international options since they do not consider the Palestinian situation something basic and they have other priorities.” He added: “This way of thinking is not a tactic but is serious because we will not accept to have an authority whose jurisdictions are usurped, but this does not mean that we are speaking about dissolving it.”
However, Al-Alul does not deny that the PA situation is very difficult in these circumstances in which there is no horizon and in light of the changes in the Arab world and the whole world. He said: “we are hurt by this, and we are discussing the prospects of getting out of this since we were able to restore brightness to the Palestine question through going to the United Nations in spite of the difficult Arab situation and the international financial crisis.”
He said, however: “Had we not done so and had we waited until the appropriate time, we would have waited for very long years for the rearrangement of the situation in the region.”
On what president Abbas means when he said that he is going to discuss the future of the PA with Khalid Mishal, head of Hamas Political Bureau, Al-Alul said: “He means that he is going to discuss with Mishal the present situation and the prospects of getting out of it and working out a national strategy for the future.”