The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

The (Anti-)Palestinian Authority

Professor Joseph Massad wrote an interesting opinion piece in Al-Ahram Weekly, on the social groups--produced by the 1990s Oslo “peace process�--that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo in Palestine, and work hard to undermine the current democratically elected Hamas government. He draws parallels between Hamas' current position with that of Chile's Salvador Allende in 1973.

Massad highlights five main classes that the architects of Oslo created to ensure that the "process" survives are:

- A political class, divided between those elected to serve the Oslo process, whether to the Legislative Council or the executive branch (essentially the position of president of the Palestinian Authority), and those who are appointed to serve those who are elected, whether in the ministries, or in the presidential office.

- A policing class, numbering in the tens of thousands, whose function is to defend the Oslo process against all Palestinians who try to undermine it. It is divided into a number of security and intelligence bodies competing with one another, all vying to prove that they are most adept at neutralising any threat to the Oslo process. Under Arafat's authority, members of this class inaugurated their services by shooting and killing 14 Palestinians they deemed enemies of the "process" in Gaza in 1994 -- an achievement that earned them the initial respect of the Americans and the Israelis who insisted that the policing class should use more repression than it had to be most effective.

- A bureaucratic class attached to the political class and the policing class and that constitutes an administrative body of tens of thousands who execute the orders of those elected and appointed to serve the "process".

- An NGO class: another bureaucratic and technical class whose finances fully depend on their serving the Oslo process and ensuring its success through planning and services.

- A business class composed of expatriate Palestinian businessmen as well as local businessmen -- including especially members of the political, policing and bureaucratic classes -- whose income is derived from financial investment in the Oslo process and from profit-making deals that the Palestinian Authority (PA) can make possible. (Read full op-ed)