[News] PA forces raid meeting as dissent grows

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Aug 26 10:13:15 EDT 2010

Article is followed by PFLP Story

PA forces raid meeting as dissent grows

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 25 August 2010


Palestinian political leaders and activists, outraged by the 
Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) approval of direct talks 
between the Palestinian Authority and Israeli leaders next week, 
attempted to converge in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah 
today in a meeting aimed at "express[ing] or stand[ing] against a 
return to negotiations," Ma'an News Agency reported ("
The meeting was held at the same time as a conference in Gaza City, 
where officials of various Palestinian parties also discussed their 
opposition to the PLO's plans for direct talks.

According to Ma'an, and corroborated by the Palestinian human rights 
group Al-Haq, the Ramallah meeting was interrupted and shut down by 
the Palestinian Authority's General Intelligence forces, who provoked 
participants and attacked individuals trying to document the incident.

Khaleda Jarrar, Ramallah mayoral candidate with the Popular Front for 
the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) party, told Ma'an that 
participants in the meeting were confronted by Palestinian Authority 
(PA) forces in civilian uniform, who "attempted to thwart the event 
from the start, chanting slogans and leading event participants 
towards the center of Ramallah."

"We aimed to voice our dissent, and the PA decided to enter the 
conference hall and drag participants out to an unplanned rally," 
continued Jarrar. The PA has made it an ongoing policy to prohibit 
"unplanned" rallies by opposing political groups.

Al-Haq, whose offices are located next to the Protestant church where 
the meeting was held, stated in a press release that some of its 
staff members attempted to document the events and were subsequently 
attacked by the PA forces.

"Upon seeing one of the staff members, Wesam Ahmad, equipped with a 
camera, plain-clothed General Intelligence officers accosted him and 
knocked the camera from his hand," stated Al-Haq. "After retrieving 
the camera and asking why he was being prevented from taking any 
pictures, Mr. Ahmed was surrounded by approximately 10 members of the 
GI. They grabbed him around the neck and head while holding his arms, 
stripping the camera from him. During the attack, another Al-Haq 
staff member, Ms. Nina Atallah, who tried to intervene to assist her 
colleague, was injured and had to be taken to hospital. ... It 
emerged, after asking policemen on the scene, that Al-Haq's camera 
had been confiscated by the GI. Equipment and footage from 
journalists on the scene were also confiscated during the incident."

Al-Haq added that it denounced the repeated violations of human 
rights by PA forces, and urged civil society to condemn such 
practices and ensure freedom of expression and assembly. "Today's 
incident is a further example of the increasing climate of violence 
and intimidation that is effectively transforming Palestinian society 
into a 'police-state,'" Al-Haq reported.

This violence meted out by PA forces on Wednesday comes amidst 
growing dissent within Palestinian political parties against the 
leadership of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who continues to hold 
office under controversial emergency decrees extending his expired 
term. His decision to attend US-brokered direct talks with Israel -- 
despite the continued construction of Israeli settlements on occupied 
Palestinian land and the ongoing Israeli siege on Gaza, amongst other 
rights violations -- has been greeted with condemnation.

In Damascus, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal denounced the resumption of 
direct talks as "nationally illegitimate, carried out by force and 
American summons," according to Ma'an 
("<http://maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=310543>Mash'al: Talks 
will eliminate Palestinian cause," 25 August 2010).

Earlier this month, the Executive Committee of the PLO announced that 
it approved the direct talks in spite of the overwhelming opposition 
against negotiations. The PLO is comprised of all the main 
Palestinian political factions except for Hamas. The Executive 
Committee's approval came despite the fact that all the PLO factions 
except for Abbas' Fatah opposed the resumption of direct talks.

Meshal added that the PLO's unilateral decision serving the PA's 
interests was "an echo of Washington's order."

"The success of talks will be according to Israeli measures and 
conditions, which means eliminating the Palestinian cause, including 
the right of return, Jerusalem, [and the] 1967 borders," Meshal added.

The PLO's endorsement of direct talks sparked a wave of dissent from 
various Palestinian parties, uniting factions that have been 
historically split since the outcome of the Oslo negotiations in the 

The PFLP, along with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of 
Palestine (DFLP), the Palestinian People's Party (PPP), Hamas, 
dissenting Fatah members and factional military wings, joined in a 
vociferous condemnation of the PLO's actions in a meeting in Damascus 
on 15 August.

In a statement read during the conference by PFLP's leader in exile 
Dr. Maher al-Taher, the groups warned of "serious repercussions of 
continuing the policy of concessions and compromises of Palestinian 
national rights" 
factions reject US/Zionist pressure for direct negotiations").

When the PLO failed to respond to the Damascus statement, al-Taher 
remarked on 20 August that "the action of the Executive Committee of 
the PLO in approving these negotiations makes it clear that 
independent Palestinian decision-making and democracy is a farce in 
these institutions, as the Palestinian people have clearly expressed 
their rejection of negotiations" 
rejects and calls for action ...").

Even with the overwhelming dissent voiced by its constituents, the 
PLO formally approved the direct talks on 21 August. The talks are 
scheduled to begin on 2 September in Washington, DC after a ceremony 
expected to be hosted by US President Barack Obama.

Palestinian Authority intelligence forces shut down conference 
against negotiations in Ramallah


Palestinian Authority intelligence and police forces attacked, 
interrupted and shut down a Palestinian national conference against 
participation in direct negotiations with Israel in Ramallah on 
August 25, 2010. Organized by Palestinian political parties, 
independent figures and human rights organizations, the conference 
was convened in order to denounce the negotiations, to be held under 
the auspices of the U.S. government, as dangerous to the Palestinian 
national cause.

The meeting was held simultaneously a conference in Gaza City, where 
officials of various Palestinian parties also denounced te 
negotiations. Comrade Khalida Jarrar, member of the Political Bureau 
of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, spoke with 
Ma'an News at the conference, saying that participants in the meeting 
were confronted by Palestinian Authority (PA) forces in civilian 
uniform, who "attempted to thwart the event from the start, chanting 
slogans and leading event participants towards the center of 
Ramallah." Plainclothes security forces shouted loudly, disrupting 
the event, taking participants outside the hall, and preventing the 
news conference from continuing.

"We aimed to voice our dissent, and the PA decided to enter the 
conference hall and drag participants out to an unplanned rally," 
said Comrade Jarrar. She said that the Authority was "entirely 
responsible" for the shutting down of the event and the intimidation 
of the media. PA security forces attacked journalists and human 
rights organization members with cameras, confiscating their cameras, 
deleting their photos and footage, and assaulting journalists.

The PFLP issued a statement condemning the activities of PA 
intelligence in Ramallah, demanding an immediate investigation to 
hold those responsible accountable, and saying that this was done in 
order to "prevent the empowerment of our people and their 
representatives to express their clear and explicit disapproval of 
these direct negotiations being launched in violation of the national 
consensus and the Palestinian Central Council's decision."

It said further that Palestinian security services should be 
providing security, rather than suppression, of the Palestinian 
people, noting that these actions were reminiscent of the security 
agencies of reactionary Arab regimes which are accustomed to the 
suppression of our people and saying that these agencies are 
complicit in schemes to suppress the Palestinian people and prevent 
our people from addressing the threats to our national cause. 
Nonetheless, the statement concluded, such behavior will never 
succeed in preventing the struggle of the Palestinian people and 
their national and Islamic forces, in the homeland and abroad, to 
stop such negotiations and any and all threats to our rights, our 
people, and our cause.

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