Factions attack 'meaningless' PLO on anniversary

Hamas, Islamic Jihad and DFLP gang up on PLO for abandoning its goal and being controlled by Abbas on its 52nd anniversary.

Ari Yashar,

Protest against peace talks at PLO offices in Ramallah (file)
Protest against peace talks at PLO offices in Ramallah (file)
Issam Rimawi/Flash 90

Numerous Palestinian terror organizations spoke out in criticism of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) after it marked its 52nd anniversary on Saturday.

The PLO was established by arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat in 1964 in order to wage "armed struggle" to "liberate Palestine." The group's pro-terror stance has remained constant, with one PLO official last October calling the murder of Jews a "national duty."

It was an internationally recognized terrorist organization until that status was removed in the 1994 Oslo Accords - even though the group never rejected terrorism or recognized Israel's right to exist. 

But on its 52nd anniversary, the PLO came in for criticism from numerous terror groups including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), reports the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency on Monday.

"There is a big difference between the beginnings and the result of the PLO," said Yahya al-Abadsah, a Palestinian Authority (PA) lawmaker affiliated with Hamas. The PA was created in the 1994 Oslo Accords.

He told the paper that when the group was started the Palestinian Arabs "set their hopes on the PLO to achieve the right of return, liberation, and self determination. However, it has become meaningless, worthless, and empty."

"Neither Palestinian officials nor regional powers want the PLO to remain the umbrella for nationalistic liberation and uniting the Palestinian people, both in Palestine and the diaspora," he said.

Al-Abadsah said that in 2005 it was agreed that both Hamas and Islamic Jihad would join the PLO, but PA chairperson Mahmoud Abbas and several "influential countries" blocked the step.

Abbas's Fatah faction is an intense rival of Hamas, which unlike Fatah retains its international terrorist listing. After winning in elections, Hamas violently seized control of Gaza from Fatah in 2007.

"PA has taken control"

DFLP official Talal Abu Tharifa also spoke to the paper about the anniversary, and accused the PA for taking control of the organization.

"In theory, the PLO should be the higher reference for the PA, but in effect the daily practices have proved that the PLO is being marginalized in order to strengthen the PA," said Abu Tharifa.

He blamed Abbas for the state of affairs, given that he is both the PLO and PA chairman. Abbas's term in office ended in January 2009, but he has remained in power ever since regardless.

Abu Tharifa said that Abbas "enjoys limitless jurisdictions, which enables him to marginalize all institutions and dominate them single-handedly," noting on corruption and favors doled out to Abbas's cronies.

Also weighing in on the PLO was Islamic Jihad spokesperson Dawood Shihab, who said the organization has been burdened by being identified under its goal to "liberate Palestine."

At the same time, he said the PLO has lost support because it is no longer working for that goal but rather "sponsoring and running negotiations with the Israeli occupation."

"Despite the impasse reached in negotiations, the PLO hasn’t changed its policy or its approach" towards Israel, said Shihab.

The last round in peace talks, forced ahead by the US, were torpedoed by the PA in April 2014 when it signed a unity deal with Hamas - a deal that has yet to bridge the gaping chasm separating the rival factions.

Shihab echoed the Hamas and DFLP representatives quoted in the report, accusing the PA of taking control of the PLO and not letting Hamas and Islamic Jihad join.

For his part, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat released a statement on Sunday celebrating the anniversary and blithely calling on the other factions to join.

Erekat, former chief negotiator in peace talks and a close ally of Abbas, stressed reconciliation and unity in his statement.

"The PLO in 1964 united our people in Palestine, in exile, and in refugee camps," he wrote, saying that is "exactly what Palestinian factions should do today."




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