The Trump administration brought dramatic change to Palestine. There are new and irrefutable realities overshadowing the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) political ambitions and they are here to stay.
Some of the most prominent examples include settlement expansion in Jerusalem, annexation throughout the West Bank, the United States acknowledgement of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the US embassy’s move to Jerusalem. Even if the ‘Deal of the Century’ is no longer on the table, its shadow lingers. The PA is in a more challenging position than ever before.
There is no reason to believe Joe Biden’s presidency will signify meaningful change for Palestinians or their leadership. Instead, the PA will hedge its bets on showing good intentions and a desire for cooperation and security coordination, and for reaching a negotiated solution. It will not oppose Arab normalisation with Israel, and it will even forbid criticism of it.
Beyond the US, Arab countries no longer have patience for de facto president Mahmoud Abbas. In this climate, a resolution respecting the 1967 borders, equitable land exchanges, East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, and a just resolution for refugees are completely unavailable for the PA given the regional and international environment.
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There is also no indication that the PA is willing to propose steps to reinforce its negotiating power, either by working on reconciliation and national unity, enhancing popular resistance, continuing to push for Palestine to join international organisations, pursuing Israel legally, resisting normalisation or reinforcing boycott.
Furthermore, there is no indication that the PA will undergo real democratic change, despite its decision in January to hold general elections – a decision made largely due to external pressure and conditionality. The PA is also not willing to revive the Palestine Liberation Organization or reactivate the Palestinian diaspora. These are the cards Palestinians now have at their disposal, and the PA is not in a place to activate any of them.