Home / World / Protests after critic Abbas’ death reflect a growing crisis over PA legitimacy.

Protests after critic Abbas’ death reflect a growing crisis over PA legitimacy.

It’s a rare sight: Hundreds of Palestinians are demanding an end to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ 16-year rule. which is only a few hundred meters from his office in Ramallah.

״Get out, get out, leave us,” protesters shouted to the president as they walked through the West Bank downtown on Saturday.

riot police line Wield a long stick and a plastic shield. Bash on demonstrators who tried to approach PA presidential offices, according to undercover officials. rushed into the crowd of protesters sometimes use violence

The Palestinian Authority’s seat of power has rarely seen mass protests against its leadership. The last major rally took place in 2019 when thousands of Palestinians gathered to protest PA̵

7;s controversial social security law.

But the frustration grew for months. And the death of prominent critic Nisar Banat, who was accused of assault while in PA custody, was enough to spark protests in Ramallah and Hebron.

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in a clear change Protesters have called for the direct expulsion of Abbas, not reform. “People want the collapse of the regime,” they shouted. which is a slogan that dates back to the 2011 Arab Revolution.

Furious protesters hold pictures of Nizar Banat, an outspoken critic of the Palestinian Authority. and sings an anti-PA slogan during a rally to protest his death in the western city of Ramallah June 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

“These are chants that never existed before. We have seen protests against political incarceration. For human rights, corruption, but unlike what we have seen in recent protests. This is dangerous,” Fatah Revolutionary Council member Hatem Abd al-Qader told The Times of Israel.

The movement has not spread from Hebron and Ramallah to other cities. of the West Bank In the past it was often seen as a stronghold for Abbas’ Hamas rival. while the latter saw a much weaker protest. with hundreds of participants over thousands of people.

Protesters have echoed the huge but broken tents of PA opponents: conservative Islamists trying to revive the caliphate, activists in Hamas militants, liberal civil society hoping to reform PA and activists. Leftists who oppose PA principles

FILE: Nizar Banat, an outspoken critic of the Palestinian Authority, speaks to reporters at his family’s home in Hebron, west of the West Bank, May 4, 2021. (AP/ Nasser Nasser)

Banat, a 44-year-old social media activist from Dura, near Hebron, has developed a loyal following on his Facebook page. He uploaded a simple video. who often sit still in front of the white wall like a fence against Palestinian power

Banat incites all Palestinian political groups. From Abbas’ Fatah Movement to Hamas His style was furious and furious, often provocative. He was also a steadfast enemy of Israel, when comparing Zionism to the short-lived Crusader Empire. One day he vowed that the state of Israel would also fall.

His concerns resonated with ordinary Palestinians, many of whom saw PA as corrupt, authoritarian and ineffective in realizing the dream of an independent state.

Palestinian political analyst “The prevailing feeling today among the vast Palestinians is that they are not fighting and sacrificing themselves on the path to liberation for the sake of creating a totalitarian regime that reduces freedom of expression and freedom of the people,” Jihadhar said. After Banat’s assassination

‘The straw that betrayed the camel’

These disappointments have surfaced for many years. But Banat’s death comes as Palestinian authorities face a crisis of legitimacy that seems to be increasing day by day.

“Banat’s death was a straw that broke a camel’s back,” Ashraf al-Ajrami, Fatah’s official and former PA minister, said in a phone call.

in April Abbas postpones Palestinian elections indefinitely This will be the first election in 15 years and effectively cancel the election. Abbas rebuked Israel for not allowing independent Palestinians to vote in East Jerusalem.

Most observers, including Banat, believe that the real reason was Abbas’ fear that he would disadvantage his own rivals in Fatah and to Hamas. Abbas’ rivals in Fatah were greatly encouraged. while Hamas at the time surveyed about 8 percent.

“They think the road will punish them. So they fled to the idea of ​​Jerusalem,” to avoid voting, Banat told official Hamas Al-Aqsa TV following the cancellation of the election.

Palestinian security officials clash with protesters in Ramallah in the West Bank on June 26, 2021, during a demonstration against the death of human rights activist Nisar Banat. While in charge of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Security Force (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Allegations of corruption against PA have sharpened during the coronavirus pandemic. in March The West Bank faces scandal over allegations that PA officials have allocated vaccines for senior officials and relatives.

Hamas groups are also very popular. The terror group’s status has risen sharply since the 11-day conflict between Hamas and Israel last month. Palestinians celebrate in the center of Ramallah. After the ceasefire hoisted a green flag related to Hamas — in the center of the PA seat of power.

Many Palestinians view Hamas’ actions during the war as effective anti-Israel, even as the PA remains silent. According to a recent survey by opinion pollster Khalil Shakiki, About 75 percent of Palestinians approved Hamas’ performance during the latest war, with only 8 percent saying Abbas did well.

Political analyst Harb called May’s events an “earthquake” that led to a “significant fallback in civic views on the trial. [Palestinian] power.”

“Ignoring this or thinking it’s just a storm in a teacup that will dissipate like the previous events. I think this is a very limited and naive approach,” Harb said.

Palestinians raise placards and national flags during a protest in Ramallah in the West Bank on June 26, 2021 to protest the death of human rights activist Nisar Bana. O While in charge of the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Hamas sees the Banat death protests as an opportunity to create further chaos in the West Bank. Al Ajrami said

The protest was met with resounding silence from leaders in Ramallah. Neither Abbas nor senior PA officials spoke of the matter publicly. Although thousands of protesters took to the streets to protest. And the evil spread across social media.

Abbas’ senior adviser, Hussein al-Sheikh, who serves as the PA’s official ambassador to Israel, was the only person who implicitly referred to the incident without mentioning Banat by name.

“Law and order and transparency are mandatory. and guarantees the protection of all Palestinians. and the preservation of political, social and national structures, no one is above the law,” Al-Sheikh tweeted on Saturday.

Al-Ajrami, a former PA minister, said the protests were likely to end soon.

“The situation is still under control. And the story might end in a few days. If there are no surprises,” Al-Ajrami said.

But Abd al-Qadir argued that the leaders’ response, which included the violent dispersal of Ramallah’s rally, was already igniting tensions.

“This is political stupidity. From the first moment there should have been a statement of [PA Prime Minister] Mohammad Shtayyeh by Mahmoud Abbas to absorb the anger of the Palestinians But they are increasing in number by suppressing the protests,” Abd al-Qadir said.

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