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A Plan for the day After : Revitalizing Fatah and the PA and the USA / UK policies in the Middle East

Samer Sinijlawi

February 2024

All the stars are aligning together now. President Biden announced his Middle East Doctrine, the Saudis signalled their intentions to normalise with Israel, and all the other Arab countries including Egypt, Jordan and UAE are willing to engage into a new regional arrangement that will be able to guarantee security to Israelis and national aspirations to Palestinians. We, Palestinians and Israelis, need to sign in now before it is too late.


In line with these international and regional intentions, two Fatah leaders, Mohamad Dahlan, currently one of the most influential Palestinian political leaders who declared his support to day after reforms without necessary accepting any governmental position, and Dr Naser Alkidwa, the strongest candidate to lead the potential day after unified reform government ( both are opponents to President Abbas), and both offered creative ideas that can pave the way out of the current madness, including in several and separate media interviews in the Economist, The New York Times and several Arab and international TV channels and news outlets. Parallel to this a spontaneous massive dialogue, reported by major local and international media outlets such as Al-Monitor and involving thousands of Fatah leaders of thought, activists, high ranked leading figures and members of the top leading Fatah central committee discussed in a very unprecedented mature and responsible way the need and ways to achieve internal reforms and pave the way for a major political day after breakthrough.   

In an Op Ed published by the New York Times on December 21 under the title Mahmoud Abass Must Go, I explained the need for a leadership change in the Palestinian political order that would, naturally, have to be paralleled by changes in the Israeli leadership. President Abbas must leave the political scene. Palestinians deserve a more representative, accountable and younger leadership that adopts a construction strategy as an alternative to corruption in the West Bank and destruction in Gaza. It must establish the foundations of democracy, transparency, accountability and a system of separation of the executive, legislative and judicial authorities. It must bring together all Palestinians, allow them to engage in political life, respect their rights, safeguard their freedoms, begin social and economic development and, most important, find a way to join hands with Israel in bringing down the curtain on one of the most complex and controversial conflicts of the modern era. 


The day after will require an enhanced PA with appropriate powers and increased capacity to deliver those additional powers. This should happen in a harmonious and peaceful way.

Mr Abbas will remain as President of the Palestinian Authority with all the current symbols and privileges of office including his residence, office, staff, transport and a budget. The President as nominal Head of the Palestinian institutions would carry out a ceremonial role like the Presidents of Italy or Germany. It is appropriate that the President and his family have permanent immunity from prosecution. His team (approximately 12 persons) will have to choose between leaving the country and enjoying immunity or staying and being accountable like any citizen.

The first stage starts by the creation of an inclusive government that includes willing factions within the Fatah movement, nonpartisan national figures and any non-militarised Islamist political party that might emerge (different form of Hamas).

As President, Mr Abbas would announce the transitional Government, sign a presidential decree to appoint a Prime Minister accepted by the public and political groups who would represent a fresh start and who would attract domestic and international support. The President would swear in the Ministers nominated by the Prime Minister and transfer all executive power to this Government in an irrevocable manner until organising the elections, during which the President would not have the right to dismiss Ministers, this power would be with the Prime Minister. This scenario must lead to general national elections that should be held in about two years. All Executive and legislative power will be vested in the Government until holding the elections while public appointments such as to the Judiciary are made by the Prime Minister on the recommendation of the relevant Minister.

This is the first step towards several following overlapping milestones including: 


1- The PA Reforms

Executive and legislative powers pass to the new unified government and are transferred through a prime minister whose ministry in a process that might take about 24 months, will be responsible for the West Bank and Gaza and main tasks are:- Reconstruction of Gaza, Unification and reform of administration, Issuing decrees necessary for completing the tasks ahead including reforms, Appointing heads of security, Restructuring governmental establishments and ministries, Preparing, fixing the dates and calling for Palestinian elections, Negotiating and managing the relations with Israel including for a political solution.

2- Security arrangements for Israel to exit Gaza

The main challenge is to end the war, achieve the exchange agreement and complete the comprehensive Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. It is imperative to ensure that Israeli forces do not have cause to return to Gaza and to end the Israeli siege, so that the Gaza Strip becomes separated from any Israeli control. This is in line with the United States policy: the return of the Gaza Strip as pure Palestinian land. The Israeli concerns over the Philadelphia Corridor and any possible tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt will be delt with within the framework of the new regional security arrangements. 

Security arrangements must include an Arab transitional force with the task to secure borders and control those who wish to threaten Palestinians or Israelis. The formation of this multiple Arab country force comes with a clear mandate and specific timeframe. Its main task is to receive Gaza from the Israeli forces in an organised way and hand it over to the new Palestinian government, to ensure security arrangements on the Gaza border with Israel and guarantee security for both peoples. It must be invited by the new Palestinian government and within a mandate by the Arab League.

This transitional Arab or regional force will be non-combatant and will verify the full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. For this force to be available there should be an agreed upon and a commitment to political framework that defines the end results in advance mainly the existence of the State of Palestine next to the State of Israel on the 1967 borders and mutual recognition between the two states.


3- Reconstruction of Gaza

Given the destruction throughout most of Gaza, the estimated cost for reconstruction will be $ 60 to 70 billion USD. Potential Donors are the Gulf countries, EU, USA, Canada, UK, China, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan. We expect Israel to make a significant contribution.

Much of Gaza has faced severe destruction. The north is largely uninhabitable, without water, sewage or power systems. We should comprehensively assess the power plants and electrical lines, desalination plants, reservoirs and water carriers, housing stock, hospitals, schools, farmlands, and all critical infrastructure. We should start planning this immediately relying on satellite imagery and crowd sourced analysis.

This requires cement, rebar, and heavy equipment to be widely available. We need to dispose of unexploded ordinances that will have to be carefully removed and destroyed. Rebuilding Gaza with speed and efficiency is essential to bring stability to the traumatised people of Gaza.


4- Confidence building measures

Palestinians and Israelis might need to invest time and resources in rebuilding trust and confidence in a speedy top down process that should include: - Review the Paris protocol towards Palestinian economic independence, Revise both educational systems and media policies towards eliminating hatred and incitement and advocating for tolerance and coexistence, Redefine the security coordination and implement security strategies that will equally protect both Israelis and Palestinians, Renew the meetings of the Joint Economic Committee.


5- Regional Security arrangements and Political framework 

The Biden Doctrine is hitting three birds in one stone and presented the guidelines of the regional security and Political framework through three tracks: 

The first track will include a robust military retaliation against Iran’s proxies and agents in the region. The second track will include a Palestinian state next to Israel and the third track will include the US - Saudi security alliance involving Saudi normalisation with Israel. The USA and UK should recognise the Palestinian State on borders of 1967 immediately, with East Jerusalem as its capital while West Jerusalem will be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel. The USA and UK should declare their consulates in East Jerusalem to be their embassies to the State of Palestine and thus invite the State of Palestine to open its embassies in Washington DC and London.


It is time for the USA and UK to show leadership and political will in the Middle East, It is for us Palestinians to adapt to a strategy based on guaranteeing security to Israelis and for Israelis to adapt to a strategy based on guaranteeing human dignity, respect and national aspirations to Palestinians. Now and before it is too late, we have a small-time window to end all this madness. 


Samer Sinijlawi is a political activist and a Palestinian political commentator from East Jerusalem. He is a Fatah opponent to the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and he is chairman of the Jerusalem Development Fund.

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