Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hani al Masri: PA could collapse soon

An Important Interview

"Independent Palestinian columnist Hani al Masri has warned that the formation of an emergency government by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in defiance of , and without coordination with, the democratically elected government headed by Ismael Haniya, could eventually lead to the disintegration and ultimate collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

On Saturday, Al-Masri was asked by Salam Fayyadh, the designated premier of the Emergency government, to assume the portfolio of Minister of Information. However, he declined the offer.

Al-Mari spoke with Palestinian journalist and commentator Khalid Amayreh Saturday evening. The following are excerpts of the interview.

Question: How long do you think Fayyadh’s government would last?

Answer: I really don’t know. According to the Palestinian law, the lifespan of an emergency government shouldn’t exceed 30 days after which it would have to win the approval of the Palestinian legislative council?

Q: And if it didn’t, what would happen next?

A: The more important question is whether the Legislative Council could convene under the current circumstances, first because a large number of Hamas lawmakers are actually imprisoned by Israel, and second because it may well be difficult to have a quorum if the council succeeds in holding a session. Hamas lawmakers could simply boycott the session in which case there would be no quorum. Also the present atmosphere of lawlessness and insecurity could prevent the council from convening.

Q: So you think the decision to dismiss the National Unity Government (NUG) was hasty and not well-studied beforehand?

A: From the constitutional view point, the decision was certainly unclear. I think it was taken under the influence of events in Gaza.

Q: Could Abbas simply suspend “the constitution” whatever that means since we don’t have a real state, and rule by presidential decrees?

A: No, he couldn’t, at least from the legal view point, but, yes, he could eventually resort to ruling by presidential decrees de facto. But then one would ask “for how long could he do that?”

Q: Fatah-affiliated bands have been rampaging throughout the West Bank, abducting suspected Hamas members, vandalizing charitable and eucational institutions and setting institutions, buildings and businesses on fire. Do you think the PA police and security agencies are accomplices in these criminal acts?

A: I don’t know for sure, but my impression is that these thugs couldn’t have done what they have done without at least a green light from the PA police forces.

Q: So why didn’t the PA stop these acts of terror against innocent people and their property? What kind of a government is that which allows this chaos and lawlessness to happen, without even criticizing it verbally?

A: I am as frustrated as you are. A few hours ago I asked Fayyadh how he was going to reestablish the rule of law in Nablus and Jenin and Tulkarm in light of what has been happening. He had no answer.

Q: Who exactly are those carrying out these acts of terror and vandalism?

A: They are faceless, masked people who claim to be members of Fatah’s military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. But any thug or criminal, or indeed any Israeli collaborator, could put a mask on his face and then claim to be a member of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Strange things are happening here.

Q: What do you think is the end game of all of this?

A: I think we are probably witnessing the penultimate step before the collapse of the Palestinian Authority. And if that happens, there will widespread turmoil, chaos and lawlessness, which could prompt many people to ask for Jordanian intervention.

Q: Is this a serious possibility?

A: It might be a kind of last-resort eventuality?

Q: And would the Israelis allow this to happen?

A: Israel and Jordan are old friends

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