Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Abbas Condemns Anti-Israel Demonstrators Who Protest Against Palestinian Authority

We will be forced to cut off all ties with non-Palestinians who incite against Palestinian leadership.
Senior Palestinian Authority official to Jerusalem Post

Complaints surface about the hypocrisy of anti-Israel demonstrators, who protest against against alleged wrongs committed by Israel against Palestinian Arabs, but are silent when the Palestinian leaders discriminate against there own.

Those days may be coming to an end.

Khaled Abu Toameh writes that it appears that the Palestinian Authority gets upset when anti-Israel demonstrators turn around and start protesting against the Abbas regime:

Anti-Israel foreign nationals living in the West Bank participated in recent protests against the Palestinian Authority, a senior PA official in Ramallah charged Tuesday.

The official told The Jerusalem Post that at least 10 Western activists who came to the West Bank to take part in demonstrations against Israel participated in two anti-PA protests in Ramallah.

“The involvement of Western nationals in protests against the Palestinian Authority is completely unacceptable,” the official said. “We will be forced to cut off all ties with non-Palestinians who incite against the Palestinian leadership.”
These Western activists appear to be affiliated with anti-Israel NGOs, and in the past 2 weeks they participated in demonstrations in Ramallah along side Palestinian Arabs:
  • The first protest, by Palestinians for Dignity, demanded the cancellation of a planned visit by Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz to Ramallah. PA policemen used force to keep the protesters from marching to PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s presidential compound. At least seven protesters and five journalists were wounded.

  • A second demonstration against police brutality was held a few days later

  • A third demonstration was held last week in Ramallah, demanding the Oslo Accords be annulled and all Palestinian "refugees" be returned to their original homes inside Israel.
Apparently, a special commission Abbas set up to look into the protests discovered that the Western activists not only participated in the protests but played a role in the organizing and leading them as well.

Last month, Lori Lowenthal Marcus wrote about The Silence Abbas and the PA Want You to Hear. She noted the Palestinian Authority’s Penal Code allows those accused of defamation to be arrested and held in detention for up to 6 months without being charged with a crime. Needless to say, Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have taken advantage of this law in order to punish those who criticize the government. For example:
  • Esmat Abdul-Khalik, an al Quds University lecturer and single mother of two, was arrested in March. Abdul-Khalik was held in solitary confinement and denied visitation visits because someone else used her Facebook page to criticiz PA President Mahmoud Abbas--calling him a traitor and suggesting he resign.

  • George Canawati, the director of Radio Bethlehem 2000, was arrested in September for posting criticism of the Bethlehem Health Department on his Facebook page. Last month the Palestinian Authority decided that Canawati will be tried for defamation, which is a crime punishable by up to two years in prison. The trial has been adjourned until September.

  • Recently, at least three others have been picked up for daring to criticize members of the government and nine journalists have been arrested for exposing corruption or making critical remarks about the PA leadership on Facebook. Many others have been summoned for interrogation.
Marcus writes that apart from the intimidation of citizens, the muzzling of journalists by Abbas and the Palestinian Authority continues unabated
In addition to whispered discussions being heard in Ramallah about the “Facebook Police” are the directives issued to western journalists to focus their reporting on “Israel’s ‘occupation’” and refrain from prying into alleged corruption committed by PA officials, because “nothing else is newsworthy and nothing else should be reported.”
This Palestinian intimidation extends to western journalists, who are warned not to work with Arabic speaking reporters who fail to toe the line. Western journalists choose to go along, rather risk losing media access to senior officials.

Marcus notes:
Senior PA officials told Arab Israeli journalist abu Toameh, “Even the Jews at Haaretz behave themselves and for that they are rewarded with interviews of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.”
Entire news sites that are critical of the Palestinian Authority have been blocked from accessing the Internet:
  • A report in late April revealed that several websites which reported on corruption within the PA were blocked, including Inlight Press, which had revealed that the PA had been monitoring the phones of Mahmoud Abbas’s opponents.

  • In May, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate--which reports directly to Abbas's office in Ramallah--instead of defending the rights of its members, began punishing Arab Palestinian journalists who met with Israeli colleagues in European seminars dedicated to promoting freedom of expression and increase cooperation. They were threatened with expulsion from the Syndicate, which would result in being boycotted by all of the other PA newspapers and Palestinian media outlets.
Growing demonstrations, especially with Western activists getting involved, may bring more attention to all this.

Considering the fact there are hundreds of Western activists living in Ramallah and the surrounding villages, the prospect that these foreign demonstrators may expand their activities from weekly protests against settlements and the West Bank security barrier--to Abbas and the Palestinian Authority--cannot make Abbas happy.

Hey Abbas, welcome to the world of real activists!

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