Middle East Monitor / September 9, 2021
The recent meeting between Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas established that Palestinians are being exploited in order to provide for the PA’s stability and stronger security coordination with the colonial-occupation state. With the unfortunate expectation that Palestinians will be facing additional repression from the PA’s security forces, even after their murder of Nizar Banat and violent dispersal of Palestinian protests caught international attention, therefore, Wafa’s news brief about Abbas’s concern for freedom of expression verges on the absurd.
“We are partners in defending the rights of our Palestinian people in the face of the occupation and its plans aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause,” Abbas told a delegation of civil society and human rights organizations. Only two weeks ago, the UN and EU condemned the PA’s arrest of Palestinian activists calling for justice over Banat’s extrajudicial killing.
There is a lot of dissonance in Abbas’s assertion. Why would a leadership wanting to defend Palestinians set its security forces upon dissenters? If the PA accepts that Palestinians are loyal to their anti-colonial resistance, it stands to reason that suppressing resistance comes from the perspective of collaboration with Israel and the international community; “liquidating” the Palestinian cause is thus a collective effort in which the PA participates, to the detriment of the Palestinian people.
The PA has learnt its lessons well from the international community’s approach towards human rights. For decades, the PA was told to “wait” while Israel accelerated its colonial expansion. Palestinians are now being coerced into “waiting” by the PA, notably when it comes to the repeated postponement of democratic elections. If activists expose the PA’s exploitation of basic democratic rights, Abbas can rely upon the security services to control any subsequent disquiet. Democracy, after all, is a dangerous parameter for the PA’s illegitimate rule.
That is why Abbas’s assertion that is he ready to hold elections, just a few months after cancelling them, should not be taken seriously, now or in the future. We will believe it when we see it. At the moment the likelihood seems farfetched, given the US-Israeli collusion to strengthen the PA through security coordination and economic incentives, no matter how much Palestinian human rights are trampled upon in the process.
To think of the PA as even remotely concerned about Palestinian rights is inconceivable. In the absence of a leadership that is truly safeguarding the people’s political rights, it has become incumbent upon human rights organizations to point out the political irregularities that translate into human rights violations.
At the very least, the PA ought to have the decency to avoid all attempts to promote a human rights agenda as long as its priorities remain aligned with aiding Israel’s colonial expansion. The PA’s precarious political standing may be the most evident concern in terms of diplomatic stability, but propping it up financially has been a contributing factor in Israel’s land grab. As more Palestinians openly voice dissent against the PA’s role in Israel’s colonization, the Ramallah authority would do well to steer clear of human rights rhetoric, unless it is willing to be held accountable for its actions.
Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America