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The quest to preserve the PA's role as a colonial collaborator Open in fullscreen

Ramona Wadi

The quest to preserve the PA's role as a colonial collaborator

Mahmoud Abbas at the Palestinian Authority's headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 February, 2019

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Comment: The PA is repeatedly flaunting the fact that it represents Israel first and foremost, followed by the international community and its own echelons, writes Ramona Wadi.
When the Palestinian Authority [PA] declined to accept further US financial aid, the immediate concerns were of a humanitarian nature. USAID terminated its operations in Gaza and the occupied West Bank and Palestinians were once more depicted as a dependent population with options for survival depleting fast.

The US Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018 stipulates that entities receiving financial aid will be subjected to US jurisdiction if American citizens filed court proceedings against individuals for repercussions from "acts of war".

In such a scenario, the PA would be liable to paying compensation to the individual making claims in a US court. It is for this reason that the PA announced its refusal of US financial assistance.

As the initial hype abated and the PA distanced itself from statements which portrayed the practical decision as a steadfast stance, it became clear that the decision also affected the PA's security coordination with Israel – a pillar of the Oslo Accords which works as an extended colonial collaboration targeting thousands of Palestinians involved in resistance activities or in disagreement with the PA's authoritarian rule. The US allocated $60 million per year to support the PA's security services.

Financial assistance for security coordination is provided by the US. The Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] has also provided training assistance to the PA's security services. In September 2018, a PA delegation arrived in Washington for talks with the agency, despite the US having taken steps detrimental to Palestinian independence, such as unilaterally recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital, withholding funds from UNRWA and closing down the PLO diplomatic mission.

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At that time, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas differentiated between US funding to UNRWA and to the security services, declaring the latter of utmost importance from a PA perspective.

It is little wonder, therefore, that Israel, the US and the PA scrambled to find a solution to maintain the dynamics of security coordination. Last January, Israel shed doubt on the PA's willingness to terminate the agreement and it is highly likely that the prediction will be validated.

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Israel has asked the Trump administration to amend the ACTA law or find an alternative solution to transfer the money while bypassing the stipulations as decreed in the legislation. According to Lt. Gen. Eric Wendt, the US security coordinator for Israel and the PA, "If the American law isn't changed and a solution isn't found, it could be a fatal blow to the security coordination with the Palestinian Authority," adding that such a scenario would "harm a top Israeli security interest."

Meanwhile, Abbas has articulated his reassurances that security coordination will continue, depicting the agreement as part of the PA's counter-terrorism agreements "with nearly 100 countries, including Israel." Terminating this "joint agreement to fight terrorism with Israel" will continue as, it its absence, "nothing will remain."

This statement is ample evidence as to how integral security coordination is for the PA's survival, especially at a time when its existence is so precarious. It also sheds light on Abbas's previous gimmicks, when he would make brief headline news by threatening to withhold security coordination, particularly on occasions when Israel's violence prompted Palestinians into ongoing acts of organised resistance.

In 2014, Abbas had threatened to halt security coordination following the death of Ziad Abu Ein, a PA official who was brutally assaulted by Israeli soldiers during a peaceful protest. The same threats resurfaced time and again in response to Israel and the US hindering the PA resorting to the UN in attempts to seek a resolution to end Israel's military occupation.

Between both stances, Abbas has constantly exploited the Palestinians. If the occasions warranted international solidarity with Palestinians, he would threaten to halt security coordination. Conversely, if Israel's security narrative prevailed, security coordination would be implemented and lauded by Abbas as a terrorism-fighting measure

In 2017, Abbas again stated he would halt security coordination if Israel's colonial expansion continued. In the same year, he again referenced the agreement during Palestinian protests over the security measures at the entrance to al-Aqsa mosque.

On each occasion, the threat was presented as a novelty, rather than a regurgitated series of unenforced claims.

Yet, the Palestinians have experienced the PA's security services violence and its ramifications constantly, as the PA acts on behalf of Israel and of its own accord to eliminate any possibilities of a unified Palestinian resistance.

In 2014, security coordination was responsible for the mass arrests in the occupied West Bank which provided the prelude to Operation Protective Edge. Reports continue to surface of Palestinians being tortured by the PA's security services. In 2018, protests in the occupied West Bank against the PA's punitive measures on Gaza were met with brutal force.

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The PA's security coordination has also delivered death to Palestinians on behalf of Israel – the case of Basel al-Araj in 2017 is one such instance. Protests against the PA over al-Araj's murder were also violently dispersed by the security services.

Conversely, during all the times when the PA called for Palestinians to take to the streets to protest Israel's violations, its security services never offered cover for the Palestinians exposing themselves to aggression and violence.

Between both stances, Abbas has constantly exploited the Palestinians. If the occasions warranted international solidarity with Palestinians, he would threaten to halt security coordination. Conversely, if Israel's security narrative prevailed, security coordination would be implemented and lauded by Abbas as a terrorism-fighting measure.

That Abbas is pledging to continue security coordination at a time when other pressing humanitarian issues as a result of political decisions are being pushed aside is no trivial matter. The PA is repeatedly flaunting the fact that it represents Israel first and foremost, followed by the international community and its own echelons.

Being in concordance with Israel and the US on the matter already ensures the continuation of security coordination. Acting as the colonial power's security guard among Palestinians is one of the reasons why not only security coordination will be given priority, but also, for as long as it can be managed, the PA's very existence.

Rhetoric shifts quickly when it comes to the PA. Within the space of a week, the PA has gone from equating its forced decision to halt security coordination with the issue of Jerusalem – a concoction conjured by PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat, to pledging, despite the consequences as a result of the ACTA law, to maintain the pillar derived from the Oslo Accords.

This dynamic is unlikely to change as the PA has proved, time and again, that it will sacrifice the Palestinian people in order to preserve its pseudo-representative authority.


Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger specialising in the struggle for memory in Chile and Palestine, colonial violence and the manipulation of international law. 

Follow her on Twitter: @walzerscent


Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

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