The West is helping PA torment Palestinians

By Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah

14/08/2008

Western governments are telling their respective citizens
that the financial support they give to the Palestinian
Authority (PA) is used to foster security and promote
democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the occupied
territories.

These governments might also be deluding themselves into
thinking that the often harsh repression meted out by the
PA to its own people, long tormented by Israel, would be
conducive to promoting peace between Israel and the
Palestinians.

But the west is wrong on both accounts.

Today, much of the western “financial aid” provided to the
Ramallah-based regime is being utilized to consolidate a
police- state structure, actually a police state without a
state since the Israeli occupation army continues to
tightly control all parts of the occupied territories,
including the vicinity of Mahmoud Abbas’s own headquarters.

According to reliable sources, more than one third of the
PA budget, which is based on “donations” from western and
oil-rich Arab donors, goes to the security agencies which
operate with virtually no legal or moral restrictions.

In comparison, less than one percent of the budget goes to
agriculture in both Gaza and the West Bank. This is the
sector upon which more than 50% of Palestinians depend for
their livelihood.

We all know that the Raison d’être behind the very
existence of the PA security apparatus is to repress
Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation.

Otherwise, Israel wouldn’t have allowed the US and other
countries to bankroll, train, and arm these “Palestinian
forces.”

Today, the way these so-called forces function seriously
undermines the rule of law, civil liberties and human
rights in the occupied territories.

They are arresting, maltreating and torturing innocent
people. They are imprisoning journalists who are carrying
out their duties as journalists. They are closing down and
vandalizing social, cultural, academic and other
institutions in utter violation of the rule of law.

In short, there is a reign of terror being fostered all
over the West Bank under the pretext of “fighting Hamas.”

The PA claims its heavy-handed tactics are necessary to
prevent Hamas from carrying out a coup in the West Bank.

This claim, however, is ridiculous and mendacious. The
reason is that in order for Hamas to be able to carry out a
“coup” in the West Bank, it would have to be militarily
stronger than both Israel and the PA combined, which is a
far-fetched prospect, to say the least.

In truth, the real reason behind the reign of repression
and flagrant human rights violations in the West Bank is an
overwhelming desire for revenge for the ousting by Hamas of
Fatah militias from Gaza more than a year ago.

A few weeks ago, the PA arrested three journalists in the
West Bank on manifestly frivolous charges such as
“endangering national security” and “creating divisions
within the people.”

These journalists, including Awadh Rajoub, a correspondent
for the Arabic service of the al-Jazeera.net, are still
languishing in PA lockups and jails.

Rajoub’s relatives said he was likely to be prosecuted by a
military tribunal.!! Yes, a military trial of an innocent
Palestinian journalist by an authority that has no
authority or sovereignty, and whose very survival and
existence depend nearly completely on the good-will of
Israel, the Palestinian people’s ultimate tormentor and
oppressor.

Moreover, dozens of community leaders, religious officials,
elected mayors, as well as college students are being
jailed and probably tortured by security interrogators.

A few weeks ago, a visitor to the local government hospital
in Hebron intimated to this writer that he saw a
badly-beaten young man tied with iron chains to his
hospital bed, with three armed security guards posted at
the entrance to his room.

Last week, PA crack policemen beat savagely two teachers
who were tutoring high-school students at the Anwar
Academic Center in Dura, 10 miles south West of Hebron. The
two teachers were identified as Naim Talahmeh and Salem al
Hureibat.

Earlier this month, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said he
ordered the security agencies to release all political
prisoners rounded up following recent Gaza events.

However, two weeks have passed and 95 per cent of the
political detainees are still languishing in PA lockups and
jails.

Indeed, PA security forces continue to arrest innocent
people and close down businesses and charities on a daily
basis without any regard for the rule of law.

In recent days, the PA security forces even began arresting
lawyers defending illegally-held detainees. Human rights
sources in the West Bank have reported that Advocates
Muhammed Farrah from Hebron and Fadel Bushnaq from the
northern West Bank are languishing in PA jails.

The reign of repression being carried out by the PA against
its own people can’t be justified by whatever unacceptable
conduct by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, including the unlawful
arrest of political figures affiliated with Fatah.

Persecuting people perceived as Hamas supporters as a
reprisal for the arrest by Hamas of Fatah activists, or
vice versa, is an unethical act fitting gagsters and street
thugs.

To be sure, Hamas has released the vast bulk of Fatah’s
political leaders, including Zakaria al Agha, the group’s
most prominent leader in the strip. So why is the
Fatah-dominated PA continuing to violate the human rights
and civil liberties of the Palestinian people?

The West is wrong in thinking that beating and tormenting
Palestinians by the PA will produce security for Israel.

The PA had carried out a lot of repression of its own
people during the so-called Oslo era (1994-2000).

That ugly episode of repression, we all remember,
eventually produced two things: The al Aqsa Intifada and
Hamas’s electoral victory in 2006

It is therefore very likely that the Western-sponsored
repression by the PA of the very people it claims to serve
and whose interests it claims to be protecting and
safeguarding will boomerang on both the West and its
increasingly ruthless child.

The West is thus advised to create a clear linkage between
its financial aid to the PA and its human rights records.
That would be compatible with its declared ideals and
policies, and would also serve the interest of peace in
Palestine.

In the final analysis, the last thing the Palestinians need
is another tormentor augmenting Israel’s genocidal terror
against our people.

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