from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Liberty and the Palestinian Authority

October 28, 2014

Blog Post
Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

More on:

Middle East and North Africa

Palestinian Territories

Human Rights

Politics and Government

Palestinian Authority officials have given thousands of speeches  over the years about removing the Israeli occupation, freeing Palestinians, self-government, and the like. But today --as in the days of Arafat-- the PA itself is a threat to the liberty of the Palestinians it rules.

The most recent example is this information from the Jerusalem Post:

According to the Palestine Now news agency, documents show that Abbas ordered the monitoring of phone conversations of some of the more prominent political figures in the West Bank.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ordered his attorney general to bug the phones of his political rivals within Fatah, according to a bombshell report posted on Saturday by a Hamas-affiliated website.

According to the Palestine Now news agency, documents show that Abbas ordered the monitoring of phone conversations of some of the more prominent political figures in the West Bank, including chief peace negotiator Saeb Erekat; PLO bigwig Yasser Abed Rabbo; Jibril Rajoub, the former head of the Preventive Security Service; and Tawfiq Tirawi, the commander of the Palestinian intelligence apparatus.

Even Human Rights Watch, whose bias against Israel is notorious, had to acknowledge basic facts about the PA:

Complaints of torture and ill-treatment by West Bank PA security services persisted....PA security services and men in civilian clothes identified as security employees violently dispersed peaceful protests and arbitrarily detained protesters and journalists....Palestinian courts did not find any West Bank security officers responsible for torture, arbitrary detention, or prior cases of unlawful deaths in custody.

Donors to the PA do not like to acknowledge and discuss these violation of human rights by the PA, because they do not fit into the usual narrative: Palestinians want and deserve self-government, but are denied it by Israel; the only problem for the cause of liberty is the Israeli occupation. Simple, but wrong: the PA itself is an increasingly repressive entity, with President Abbas abusing the powers of his office to fight political enemies (and protect corruption). This is not exactly news, but until it is recognized and fought by donors it will continue and expand. It’s ironic that all those groups, especially in Europe, who consider themselves champions of Palestinian rights wish only to condemn Israel-- while they continue to ignore the threat to Palestinians that emerges from their own officials and government bodies.

More on:

Middle East and North Africa

Palestinian Territories

Human Rights

Politics and Government

Up
Close