Last week, fourteen Palestinian Arab factions met in Algiers and signed a declaration to hold elections within a year. The “Algiers Declaration” would advance proportional representation in the Palestinian National Council (PNC) and confirms that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) is the sole representative of Palestinian Arabs. It was symbolically signed in the same hall as Yasser Arafat announced the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The Declaration was signed by a number of U.S.-designated terrorist groups, including HAMAS and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), as well as Fatah, the party of Mahmoud Abbas, the current president of the Palestinian Authority. The goal was seemingly to allow every Palestinian Arab – 14 million from around the world – and every “political” entity, including terrorist groups that seek the killing of Jews and destruction of Israel, to participate.
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a statement that he “welcomes the signing on 13 October of the Declaration of Algiers” and “underscores the importance of Palestinian reconciliation for a politically stable, economically viable, sovereign and independent State of Palestine.” It is unclear if the UNSG views a State of Palestine as already in existence or aspirational. What is evident, is that he believes including terrorist groups in “reconciliation” and elections is commendable.
It is uncertain if elections will take place as envisioned. In the past, the PA has insisted on including Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem in elections which Israel forbade as it annexed the area. If Palestinians from around the world get to participate – including those in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, as well as citizens in the U.S., Chile, Israel and elsewhere – perhaps Israel will permit Israeli Arabs to participate. Perhaps those countries which don’t recognize a Palestinian State or forbid dual citizenship would prohibit people from voting or force them to renounce their citizenship in their home countries.
However, it is likely that the various Palestinian groups will use this year for political advantage to prove they deserve support. This has historically been achieved through incitement and violent attacks against Israel. When Hamas launched missiles into Israel, its popularity soared according to Palestinian polls. When Abbas/Fatah praised “martyrs” and committed to continue the “pay-to-slay” program to fund terrorist actions against Israelis, it jumped in the polls.
President Abbas has already been reducing security coordination with Israel, as Palestinians see his rule as serving Israeli interests more than their own. His pullback has led to a spike in terrorist attacks against Israelis this year, and a need for more Israeli raids into PA territory to capture the terrorists, often uncoordinated with PA security teams. It has led to many more civilian deaths on both sides.
Almost all western countries and media have ignored this story, even while Qatar, a longtime supporter of the political-terrorist group Hamas, and Arab media have hailed the agreement. Perhaps the West is waiting for the Arab League Summit which is set to convene November 1 in Algiers. Can the larger Arab world or the more regional Palestinian factions unite in common cause? Perhaps, but historically, only with Jewish blood.
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