The Palestine Liberation Organization:
From A Locomotive Of Revolution
To A Farm Of Normalization

Khaled Barakat

January 29th, 2022

[Taken From Masar Badil]

[The following article was originally published in Arabic at Al-Akhbar on 27 Jan. 2022]


If the Arab regimes and their affiliated Palestinian bourgeoisie used the Fateh movement as a political and popular vehicle to secure their interests, then the Palestinian Authority, which was established in 1994, devoured the PLO and what was left of Fateh, and it became a poisoned tool, a spearhead for the project of normalization and liquidation of the Palestinian cause. Today, we are witnessing the funeral ceremonies of this institution, whose “official seal” now sits in the pockets of the Shin Bet and the Civil Administration officers. Instead of the PLO being a bridge toward return and liberation, it became a bridge crossed by the Zionist enemy to perpetuate a system of subordination and liquidation, all with the blessing of the so-called “sole legitimate representative”!

Since 1968, the Zionist enemy has sought to create what it called a “Palestinian entity” in cooperation with “high-ranking personalities” in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, from representatives of big Palestinian capitalists, tribal leaders and traditional leaders (on both banks of the Jordan River). These figures and forces were, and still are, particularly reliant on their close relationship with the Jordanian regime.

May liquidationist initiatives and projects known to the Palestinian people have been continually reproduced under countless names. The “project of self-rule administration” was at the forefront, but even as its name changed, the essence and content remained the same. These liquidation projects are tantamount to a reactionary Zionist colonial “solution,” and an alternative to the revolutionary historical solution presented by the Palestinian revolution with the escalation of fedayee action: the project of liberation, return and the establishment of a democratic society throughout all of Palestine.

The essence itself remained unchanged, until this initiative was translated into reality on the ground through the signing of the Oslo accords (1993), by the leadership of Fateh, and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (1994). The birth of this Authority was accompanied by a major transformation in the international and Arab regimes, and with the collapse (indeed, the deliberate destruction), almost completely, of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its institutions. Thus, Palestinian capitalists in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip found an opportunity to establish a rotten entity under the name of the “Palestinian Authority,” relying on their political party, the Fateh movement.

The Palestinian Authority came into being as a poisoned fruit, the product of the previous absurd and monopolistic policies. A new phase of retreat and destruction began, the disastrous consequences of which we are still experiencing today. The danger of the existence of the Oslo entity (the Palestinian Authority) in this era of global neoliberalism, after the collapse of the socialist camp, the direct U.S. military occupation in the region, and the ensuing wars, lies in the fact that it has become part of the toolbox for the liquidation of the Palestinian cause. That is, the liquidation of the national liberation project at the hands of a “Palestinian entity” itself. This is because “the castle is taken from the inside,” as they say. The enemy would not have been able to advance an inch without the presence of its Palestinian tool, which was provided by the leadership of the PLO and Fateh for the entire liquidation project.

This is, of course, without relieving the rest of the Palestinian factions of their responsibility, albeit to a lesser degree, for the dismantling of the Palestinian national project, especially those who established the illusions of “settlement” with the enemy and the so-called “interim program” in 1974. Those who agreed to it presented the Palestinian right wing with a pretext enabling it to walk the path of gradual concessions, in the name of “realism and tactics,” leading to the sale of the Palestinian cause in its entirety.

The Palestinian experience prior to the Oslo Accords indicates that popular will, led by an armed vanguard, has always been able to confront and thwart the “self-rule” project and isolate those forces that dare to adopt this option, and even liquidate them when necessary (as was seen in the confrontation with the Village Networks in the 1970s and 1980s.) The overwhelming popular and political unity in rejecting “self-rule” and the return of King Hussein to the West Bank would have prevented the implementation of this liquidation project.

The Authority of Arab and Palestinian capitalists, seeking “economic peace,” “stability” and “achieving peace through negotiations,” destroyed the foundations of the Palestinian liberation project, and squeezed it into the grip of the 1% of major international traders and their agents. Therefore, the Palestinian popular classes found themselves exposed, deprived of the ability to take action or influence the outcome; rather, they became shackled in the economic, political and social sense, marginalized and neglected, constrained by the contours of the “new Palestinian regime” established by the Fateh party in partnership with the Palestinian “private sector,” with the clear complicity of the batallions of washed-up, opportunistic intellectuals.

The Palestinian popular classes were able, during the stage of the revolutionary tide, to curb the occupation's incursions, limit the influence of the oil regimes in the Palestinian arena, and deter the residents of the palaces from liquidating Palestinian rights — even through assassinations or threats of physical liquidation. After 1993, they were gradually stripped of this ability and denied even the mechanisms of peaceful change in order to restore their confiscated role.

The forces propelling Oslo destroyed what remained of the foundations and bases of the Palestinian national economy, dismantled the all-encompassing, inclusive political and national institutions, and harnessed the Palestinian people to agreements, laws, taxes and debts that primarily affected farmers, fishers, impoverished workers and employees, and then reproduced the Palestinian security institutions for a second time after the intifada in 2005. This project was sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and was supervised directly by U.S. General Keith Dayton, known for his phrase, “the new Palestinian”!

If we add to all of this the preceding and systematic destruction of all popular organizations and union federations inside and outside Palestine, and the confiscation of the voice of our people in occupied Palestine '48 and in exile and diaspora, the picture before us becomes clearer and more dangerous:

A process of bulldozing the Palestinian liberation movement was carefully drawn up and engineered. This was accompanied by the destruction of the institutions of the Palestine Liberation Organization, emptying them of their national and democratic content, until the PLO was transformed into a private farm for Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies. In a more precise sense, the rights of the popular classes in the Palestinian economy and in the PLO were robbed.

The Oslo entity, then, came as a ready-made recipe for the destruction of the Palestinian national movement, removing it from the scene. This was accompanied by the proliferation of the phenomenon of “non-governmental organizations” in our society and took the place of the student, feminist and labor movement, reproducing them instead according to liberal and Western concepts and visions, stripped of their national liberation content.

The Oslo regime constitutes the most dangerous Palestinian angle of the project to liquidate the Palestinian cause, and presents the most subordinate image to imperialism and Zionism within the framework of the official Arab regimes. It is the weakest side of the Camp David — Wadi Araba — Oslo triangle, which is sponsored by the United States and Saudi Arabia in particular, because it provides the Zionist discourse with official Palestinian “legitimacy.” Thus, the PLO was transformed from a locomotive for liberation into a private farm for merchants, brokers and the “sacred” security coordination group.

The exit from this complex Palestinian reality will not happen without a long revolutionary struggle and a unified Palestinian and Arab popular will that imposes the rights of the Palestinian people once more, returning the struggle to its fundamentals. This must be led by the Palestinian armed resistance and the prisoners' movement, in which the forces of popular struggle and mobilization inside Palestine and in the diaspora fully participate.