Friday, January 21, 2011

Palestinian Authority Blocks West Bank Rally Supporting Tunisian Protests

You really can't make this stuff up. The Palestinian Authority, which in the West Bank is essentially Fatah, has no interest in ceding power to anyone, whether it is Hamas, or allowing demonstrations that might raise awareness about the corruption and failures of Palestinian leadership to accomplish anything since they were given civil administrative control over much of the West Bank.

The PA has banned demonstrations supporting the Tunisian overthrow of the odious Ben Ali government and demands for a house-cleaning of those allied with Ben Ali.
The Palestinian Authority refused to grant permission for a rally to celebrate the overthrow of Tunisia’s authoritarian president on Wednesday in Ramallah, the administrative capital of the West Bank.

The French newspaper Le Monde reported that a few dozen Palestinians who defied the ban arrived in the square in Ramallah where the rally was to take place only to find that they were outnumbered by members of the ruling Fatah party, who chose the same time and place to stage a demonstration in support of Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

According to the Palestinian Maan news agency, “It was not clear whose demonstration was planned first.”

A correspondent for Le Monde, Benjamin Barthe, observed that a police cordon around the square and “the presence among the demonstrators of many mukhabarat (secret police) officers left little doubt about the Palestinian Authority’s intention to prevent any expression of solidarity with the ‘jasmine revolution’ ” in Tunisia, which led the president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, to flee into exile.

The reporter added that just as one young Palestinian began to wave a Tunisian flag, an officer grabbed it, on the grounds that it was disturbing the demonstration in honor of the prisoners. .

Omar Barghouti, a leading Palestinian human rights activist who was present at the thwarted celebration, told the French newspaper: “It’s unbelievable. … The police are in the process of confirming the charge that the Palestinian Authority is on the side of Ben Ali and that it also fears the people and the street.”
The Palestinian security forces have banned all displays of the Tunisian flag or anything that can reference the Jasmine uprising.

This goes back to what I've been saying about the lessons learned from the Tunisian uprising and overthrow of Ben Ali. Middle Eastern regimes and despots have learned that tolerance of demonstrators and protesters may lead to their overthrow so that regimes will now try to nip any protests or demonstrations in the bud before they can blossom into events that they can no longer control or shape.

The PA and Fatah has learned this lesson well, and the Palestinians are worse off for it. Fatah has repeatedly failed the Palestinian people - refusing deal after deal to have a 2-state solution, and isn't a partner in peace. Fatah's Abbas would much rather retain the status quo - where he can profit from the situation without having to actually do any work towards building a civil society that is engaged in constructive activities rather than peddling a nihilistic worldview that sees eliminating Israel as the cure-all for what ails the Palestinian people.

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