Degradation of the Oslo authority

September 30, 2017
Sarah Benton

This posting has these items:
1) Al Jazeera: Palestinians speak out about torture in PA prison, several sickening accounts;
2) Al Jazeera: Mahmoud Abbas, your time is running out, Lamis Andoni wrote the first of two excellent comments in 2016;
3) Electronic Intifada: PA cracks down on dissent as Abbas runs out of options, Omar Karmi, May 2016, wrote the second;
4) New Arab: Majority of Palestinians want Abbas to resign, poll finds;
5) PCPSR: Palestinian Public Opinion;

Noha Halaweh’s sitting room in Nablus is lined with pictures of her husband, Ahmed, who was beaten to death by Palestinian security forces last year. Photo by Jacob Burns/Al Jazeera

Palestinians speak out about torture in PA prison

Jericho prison is playing a key role in a Palestinian security apparatus aimed at stifling dissent, observers say.

By Al Jazeera
September 27, 2017

Jerusalem – [The release of] Palestinian journalist Sami al-Sai from the custody of the Palestinian intelligence services in Tulkarem in February  had been ordered, but just as he was about to leave, he was re-arrested and transferred to Jericho prison.

There, he underwent 15 days of interrogation and torture, he told Al Jazeera.

“They strung me up from the roof of the cell with a rope tied around my arms, which were behind me. There was so much pain,” he said, noting that he was beaten on his feet with a hose during another interrogation session. “I couldn’t believe the pain … Afterwards, I couldn’t walk properly; I couldn’t reach out my arms.”

Sai was released after paying a fine to suspend a three-month sentence for links to the Gaza-based Palestinian movement Hamas.

His story fits with a pattern of abuse, which ex-detainees, their families, lawyers and human rights organisations say is increasingly common in the occupied West Bank, and especially Jericho. The prison, they say, is playing a key role in a Palestinian security apparatus that has ratcheted up its attempts to stifle dissent and imprison political opponents.

“People face torture in many places when they are in [the] custody of the Palestinian Authority,” said Anas Barghouti, a Ramallah-based human rights lawyer. “Many people also face torture in Jericho, but what makes it different is that it is especially a place for political prisoners.”

Barghouthi told Al Jazeera that a new “security committee”, a joint body of Palestinian intelligence agencies set up in 2016 in Jericho, has increased the power of the security services because they are working together and reporting directly to the president. “It was set up to deal with people accused of supporting [Mohammed] Dahlan,” he said, referring to an exiled opponent of President Mahmoud Abbas, “but it’s now being used as a tool in political arrests of different kinds.”

A spokesperson for the PA’s military prosecution confirmed to Al Jazeera that the committee had been set up in 2016 and reported to the president.

Anas Barghouti says Jericho prison ‘is especially a place for political prisoners’. Photo by Jacob Burns/Al Jazeera

A man from Hebron, who spoke to Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity, said that he had been held in Jericho prison under the security committee for two months this summer, accused of having links to Hamas and possession of weapons – charges he denies.

He said it appeared that the security committee wielded great power over the judges at his fortnightly detention hearings: “The hearings were a joke. It was all for nothing; they just re-detained me immediately.” He was denied access to a lawyer and tortured by being placed in a stress position for up to five hours at a time, he added, noting that he was released after paying a bail of 10,000 shekels ($2,800).

Human rights groups have condemned the increasing number of arbitrary detentions carried out by Palestinian security forces. Ashraf Abu Hayyeh, a legal adviser for Al-Haq, told Al Jazeera that the recent detention of Shadi al-Nammoura, a Hamas member from Dura, was unprecedented.

Shadi is being held in Jericho prison despite a court having ordered his release four times. Initially, Palestinian intelligence services had been adding new charges after each release order, but since August 3 – aside from a brief period when he was held under the order of the governor of Nablus – he has been held without the addition of any new charges.

“Perhaps in the past, orders for release have been ignored for a day or three. That’s illegal, still, but this is something new – something that we haven’t seen before,” Hayyeh told Al Jazeera. Letters to the authorities regarding the case had gone unanswered, he added.

Shadi’s father, Faiz, said his son had served more than seven years in Israeli prison before being released last November. The PA then arrested him from his workplace in the village on May 25.

“I want to see him again, immediately,” Faiz said.

Meanwhile, Noha Halaweh’s sitting room in the old city of Nablus is lined with pictures of her husband, Ahmed, who was beaten to death in Jneid prison by Palestinian security forces on August 23 last year. Five of her sons were in Jericho prison on charges related to the violence in Nablus that led to her husband’s killing. She says they are innocent and were simply detained because of who their father was.

“It’s a punishment for me to be alone in the house,” Halaweh told Al Jazeera, noting that one of her sons was tortured in Jericho – hung from the ceiling of his cell by his arms. “He used to be like a flower. When I visited him, I didn’t recognise him.”

Adnan Damiri, a spokesperson for the Palestinian security forces, denied that any torture took place in Jericho, telling Al Jazeera: “We do not torture people. Jericho prison complies with all legal specifications and is one of the best in the world in that regard. We are open to human rights organisations visiting us.”

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, however, say they are living through an unprecedented period of repression.

“We’ve been sliding back in terms of human rights under the PA for years,” Barghouti said. “Things now are bad, and it could get worse. People are scared of the security committee more than any of the individual services because they’re now all working together as one.”

Mahmoud Abbas’ term as president expired years ago. Photo from 2016 by Shadi Hatem /APA images

Mahmoud Abbas, your time is running out

When a leadership, elected or not, seeks legitimacy from an occupying power, it automatically loses legitimacy.

By Lamis Andoni, Al Jazeera
January 07, 2016

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas can no longer think outside his self-imposed bubble, thus he is constantly trying to reiterate his credentials as “a peace partner” to Israel as well as his commitment to combating “terrorism and extremism”.

The fact that Israel is waging a daily war against the Palestinians, who are subjected to all forms of terror by the Israeli army and settlers, does not seem to get in the way of his well-rehearsed refrain.

Not that he is unaware of the reality around him, as the problem runs deeper than a mere state of oblivion. Every time Abbas speaks, his words underscore the deeper crisis of a besieged and subservient mental state that the erstwhile leaders of the Palestinian revolution have locked themselves into.

The tragedy is that neither Abbas nor the Palestinian Authority are trying to break out of the trap, carefully woven around them by the 1993 Oslo Accords and all subsequent agreements. Instead they are pathetically clutching to the trappings of a powerless authority.

Nationalist priority

In his latest speech on Tuesday, Abbas went as far as claiming that preserving the PA is a nationalist priority – a strange statement considering that his very presence in Bethlehem to take part in the Christian Orthodox celebrations of Christmas would not have been possible without the approval of the Israeli occupation authorities.

There is no doubt that Abbas’ insistence on sustaining the PA is largely a matter of self-interest – not only his own but that of a Palestinian elite that flourished under Oslo. This elite includes a network of past and present Palestinian officials, part of the intelligentsia and even many in non-government organisations.

PA cracks down on dissent as Abbas runs out of options

By Omar Karmi, The Electronic Intifada
May 06, 2016

It is both an assertion of dominance and a sign of desperation.

As the Palestinian Authority struggles to contain deep public and political disenchantment, it appears to be engaged in a concerted effort to curb criticism of its highest leadership and shore up the power of its leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), dominated by Abbas’ Fatah faction, has cut funding to other member factions critical of the leadership.

In April, the PA also established a constitutional court, a move seen as an attempt to circumvent the Hamas-dominated legislative council that has not sat since 2007, in the event of a post-Abbas succession process that would likely be contentious.

Last week, meanwhile, the governor of Nablus was unceremoniously sacked from his position.

These moves come as criticism of the PA over its continued security co-operation with Israel, without any discernible negotiations or progress to ensure Palestinian rights, continues to mount.

Abbas has insisted publicly on the importance of the continued close collaboration between Israeli occupation forces and PA security forces.

But an opinion poll from the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) in early April found that two-thirds of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip oppose this cooperation.

Meanwhile, activists and others have complained of a clampdown on criticism of the highly unpopular policy that has extended even into the realm of social media.

Disillusionment runs deep

These developments all point to a multi-pronged strategy aimed at securing Fatah’s – and more specifically Abbas-loyalists’ – grip on control over the PA in the West Bank.

They also indicate that those around Abbas are not confident of their authority and, conversely, that widespread disillusionment with the PA is causing a measure of panic within its leadership…

The effort spent on preventing or punishing political dissent suggests that the PA leadership sees little option: after a decade in power, Abbas has overseen only regression. Israeli settlements proliferate, the Palestinian polity is divided, the peace process is dead, the economy is moribund, electoral legitimacy has been exhausted and public sentiment is implacably hostile.

Much of this is of course down to Israel, but Abbas has shown no indication that he can find a way out. So how else to rule?

Omar Karmi is a former Jerusalem and Washington, DC, correspondent for The National newspaper.

Pres. Abbas attends the 28th Arab League Summit, March 29, 2017. Photo by Salah Malkawi/Anadolu

Majority of Palestinians want Abbas to resign, poll finds

A majority of Palestinians want President Mahmoud Abbas to resign while over half of the Palestinian public fear publicly criticising the Palestinian Authority.

The New Arab
September 23, 2017

A majority of Palestinians want President Mahmoud Abbas to resign while over half of the Palestinian public fear publicly criticising the Palestinian Authority, a new poll has found.

The survey was carried out across the West Bank and Gaza Strip from September 14 to 16 by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) and published this week.

The PSR’s findings reveal that a majority of Palestinians in the occupied territories are worried about the future of civil liberties amid a crackdown on activists and journalists, including a new Cyber Crimes Law introduced in August which targets online dissent.

Sixty-seven percent of Palestinians demand Abbas’ resignation, according to the poll, with the figure standing at 80 percent in the Gaza Strip.

Thirty-five percent of Palestinians would want to see jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti replace Abbas as president if he did not nominate himself in a new election, while 21 percent would prefer Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

Mohammad Dahlan polled in third at nine percent.

Abbas, whose presidential term expired in January 2009, has no plans to step down and has ignored calls to appoint a successor.

If legislative elections were held today with all political parties participating, 36 percent say they would vote for Fatah while 29 percent say they would choose Hamas.

Ten percent would vote for third parties while 25 percent said they were undecided, the PSR poll found.

The majority of Palestinians, 61 percent, are pessimistic about recent efforts for Palestinian reconciliation, while 57 percent believe a two-state solution is no longer viable….

Palestinian Public Opinion

For regular findings on Palestinian opinion on a number of issues and also over time, go to PSR, the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research

Poll: 19  September 2017  

An overwhelming majority of Palestinians is worried about the future of liberties in Palestine, two-thirds demand the resignation of President Abbas, and half of the public views the Palestinian Authority as a burden on the Palestinian people; but the confrontations at the gates of al Haram al Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) increase confidence in popular non-violent resistance at a time when about three quarters believe that the Trump Administration is not serious about Palestinian-Israeli peace.

14-16 September 2017 

This poll has been conducted in cooperation with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Ramallah

Protest in Ramallah at arrest of journalists. No credit given.

These are the results of the latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between 14 and 16 September 2017. The popular confrontation with the Israeli police in Jerusalem in protest over the instalment of metal detectors at the entrance to al Haram al Sharif gates was the most important event during the period. During the confrontations, President Abbas announced the suspension of contacts with the Israeli side, including security coordination.

Internally, the split and disunity characterized the Palestinian political scene….   President Abbas issued a decree in the form of a Cybercrime Law that was severely criticized by human rights organizations, media outlets, and other civil society organizations. Several journalists were arrested in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It should be pointed out that data collection was completed just one day before Hamas announced the dissolution of its “Administrative Committee” that has served until then as the de facto government in the Gaza Strip.

Total size of the sample is 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%.

For further details, contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, or Walid Ladadweh at tel. 02-296 4933 or email

Main Findings:

Findings of the third quarter of 2017 show that an overwhelming majority of the Palestinian public is worried about the future of liberties in Palestine. This prevailing perception seems to be driven by the recent increase in the incidents in which journalists and activists have been arrested, by the recently announced presidential decree enacting a cybercrime law, and by the government proposed amendments to the Law of the Judiciary. A large majority believes that Palestinians cannot criticize the PA without fear. In fact, half of the public believes that the PA has now become a burden on the Palestinian people.

This worry about the future of liberties, along with the concerns about the steps taken by the PA against the Gaza Strip, might be responsible for the increase in the demand for the resignation of President Abbas and the decline in his popularity compared to that of Hamas’ presidential candidate, Ismael Haniyeh. Indeed, if presidential elections are held today, Haniyeh would win against Abbas. Findings also indicate a decline in support for Fatah, particularly in the Gaza Strip where Hamas is more popular. In the West Bank however, Fatah remains more popular than Hamas.

West Bank /Gaza split

Perhaps the most alarming result of this poll is the fundamental shift in the attitudes of Gazans. This shift was first noticed early this year but accelerated during the past nine months. It is probable that the change came as a response to the punitive steps taken by President Abbas against the Gaza Strip. The split that rested essentially on the power struggle between two large political parties in the entire Palestinian territories is in the process of transformation to one between West Bankers and Gazans, a split that did not exist during the first nine years of Hamas’ violent takeover of the Gaza Strip.

Gazans are moving away from Fatah and the Palestinian leadership in an unprecedented way and without a parallel or similar process among West Bankers. President Abbas might have hoped that the sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip would force Gazans to reject Hamas and its policies forcing Hamas to dismantle its “Administrative Committee” that has served as a de facto government for the Gaza Strip.

Despite the limited decline in Hamas’ popularity in this poll, it is plainly clear that Gazans are directing their greatest anger at Abbas and Fatah, rather than Hamas. Today, 80% of Gazans want Abbas’ resignation, satisfaction with the performance of the president is about 20%, and it is certain that he would lose any presidential elections in the Gaza Strip to Hamas’ Ismael Haniyeh.

Moreover, Fatah is fast losing its popularity in the Gaza Strip, standing at 28% today compared to 40% only nine months ago.  Those who still support Fatah in the Gaza Strip are shifting loyalty to Mohammad Dahlan whose popularity among Gazans has more than doubled during the past nine months, from 9% to 23% today, while his popularity among West Bankers did not change, remaining hardly at 1%.

Despite the fact that positive evaluation of conditions in the Gaza Strip remains very low, the poll found some positive indicators: the desire to migrate has declined somewhat and the perception of personal and family safety and security has increased. It is also interesting to note the large increase in support for the Hamas-Dahlan deal and the optimism of the majority of Gazans who believe that the deal will be successfully implemented.

It is also worth noting the increase in public confidence in popular non-violent resistance in the aftermath of the success in removing the metal detectors installed by the Israeli police in front of the gates of al Haram al Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary). Support for this model of resistance now reaches two thirds. It should be noted however that the findings also show a rise in support for violence despite the fact that a majority remains opposed to it. One reason for the rise in support for violent and non-violent resistance might be the lack of trust in diplomacy. Findings show that about three quarters believe that the Trump Administration is not serious about Palestinian-Israeli peace making and an even higher percentage believes that the Administration is not an honest broker and that it is biased in favour of Israel……

For further findings, go to original, here

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