US and UK demanding oversight of PA security forces following human rights violations

August 25, 2021 by Baruch Yedid - TPS
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The Palestinian Authority (PA) arrested on Saturday 28 social activists, heads of organizations, and intellectuals, who took part in a protest rally in Manara Square in Ramallah against the PA following the death of political activist Nizar Banat, who died while being interrogated by the PA’s security forces.

Palestinian police officers in Ramallah in 2016. Photo by Ehud Amiton/TPS

PA sources say that since the affair, international criticism of PA head Mahmoud Abbas has increased and sources in Ramallah have learned that during recent visits by US and British intelligence chiefs to Ramallah, they have demanded oversight of the PA’s security forces and the establishment of an internal security division within the PA defence establishment.

One source said that the British directly demanded the establishment of a department for the investigation of PA police and intelligence personnel.

Reports indicate that a number of British intelligence experts have been in Ramallah for the past three months, and alongside the establishment of systems to combat terrorism and thwart terrorist funding, they have also been advising the PA regarding the establishment of an internal investigations department.

The British demand that the PA pass on to them all the interrogation reports and incidents in which there is a fear of human rights violations, and their demand has become even more forceful following Banat’s death during interrogation.

“The British want the Palestinian mechanisms to be based on law and to be transparent and supervised by both the Palestinian legal system and the public, but also to institute a system of transparency with them,” said a source.

Among the detainees in Ramallah are Khader Adnan, a senior member of the Islamic Jihad, Ibrahim Abu Hajla, a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palatine (DFLP), Yosef Sharkawi, a former senior PA security officer, Professor Imad Barghouti, a physicist, Farid al-Atrash, a lawyer From Bethlehem, and Arafat Banat, the brother of Nizar Banat.

Criticism of the Authority is growing. Congresswoman Cori Bush condemned the PA and tweeted “Shame on the Palestinian Authority. Suppressing dissent and criminalizing protest only deepens the violence of Israel’s apartheid system. We stand with Palestinians against the violence of the Palestinian Authority’s authoritarianism. Freedom for political prisoners now.”

It seems that the PA has been working to break the protest movement that developed following the cancellation of the election and Banat’s death. Complaints of violent arrests, torture in interrogations, and repression of freedom of expression are increasing on social media and in the media.

Issa Amro, a social activist from Hebron who has been arrested many times by the PA, said in a conversation with TPS that the Americans and Europeans ignore human rights violations and prefer to continue dealing with PA’s political issues.

Amro recently spoke with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken about the human rights violations in the PA and said that although Blinken expressed opposition to the phenomena and criticized the violation of human rights in the PA, he does not intend to act on this matter at this time.

“The Americans and the Israelis are satisfied with the Palestinian Authority maintaining security coordination, but they do not understand that this will lead to a collapse and that the blame will fall on them as well,” he warned.

Amro said that the Democratic Party in the US is very angry with the PA over the serious violation of human rights and the suppression of freedom of expression and that it is reasonable to assume that the party will not show restraint towards Abbas, and according to sources in Ramallah, this explains Abbas’ intention to form a new government, as a condition for encouraging American involvement in Palestinian affairs, among other things in the hope of bringing about the opening of the American consulate in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the move to form a new government is not progressing.

Samar Sanjalawi, one of the Fatah leaders in eastern Jerusalem, expressed disappointment on Tuesday with British Consul-General in Jerusalem Diane Corner who met with PA Deputy Foreign Minister Amal Jadou on Monday.

“Delighted to meet” Jadou to “discuss strengthening UK-Palestinian bilateral relations and British support for a two-state solution. Looking forward to working closely together,” Corner tweeted.

“It is disappointing that she meets with the PA during the mass political arrests and does not emphasize this. Your Excellency, should relations with the PA continue?” Sanjalawi responded on Twitter.

A senior PA official told TPS that “Hamas is behind most of the protests in the PA in an effort to undermine internal order and stability,” adding that “the PA is being pushed back.”

Amro, however, says this is a baseless accusation since more than 80% of the last detainees are not political activists and certainly not Hamas operatives.


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