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Party Over State, the PLO Dictatorship

27 September 2003

By Yisrael Ne’eman

The well - known Palestinian leader Saeb Erekat is refusing to accept the portfolio of Minister Responsible for Negotiations with Israel in PM designate Abu Ala’s new government.  He argues that only the PLO has the right to negotiate, not the Palestinian Authority executive.  The Palestinian Legislature, or in effect parliament, must approve the new government as the legal representative in the decision - making and implementation process.  In parliamentary procedure governments have the support of the legislature who in turn represent the “will of the people”.  Such is one form of democracy.

Erekat has an old-new take on parliaments and representative bodies where a political party in the state (in this case the PLO) designates itself the executive branch in the name of “the people” when it was not elected. The PLO is the dominant faction and virtually the only one in the Legislature and government, but this still does not lend it the rights of a government, even if Chairman Arafat is hand picking the Palestinian Authority executive.

Erekat’s position is in full contradiction to the democratic process.  Dictatorships were and are made up of political parties who replaced the elected (or not) state apparatus with themselves.  A partial list includes the Nazi party in Germany, fascist Spain and Italy, the communist party in the former Soviet Union and its east European satellites, the Maoist version of communism in the People’s Republic of China and the Islamicists in Iran. 

This position has been voiced previously over the past three years but today was its most blatant pronouncement.  The Chairman intends to rule as a dictator with his “yes men” council.   Arafat was elected in January 1996 and the 88 member Palestinian Legislature in April the same year.  Furthermore no one is seriously planning a vote in the future.  In essence the whole operation is illegal since no one was elected for a 7 – 8 year period (and it will go longer).

Although Arafat and the Legislature are heading for life long terms in office it is of little importance since both the parliament and government are a sham.  Erekat (with Arafat’s full support) makes it clear the party is the supreme authority in the PA and not the people.

Parliament with its checks and balances is just one more obstacle to Arafat’s one man, one party rule.