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PA Arrests It's Own Anti-Corruption Chief
and Those who Voted the "Wrong" Way

By Johanna Rivera
(Johanna Rivera is a graduate student and the University of Connecticut and was in the West Bank in December and January)

"It's hard to find people in the West Bank who support the Palestinian Authority. People are fed up with the financial corruption and mismanagement of the Palestinian Authority", said Fahmi Shabaneh in a recent interview. He faces an arrest warrant from the PA under charges of corruption and undermining the PA. The former head of the Anti-Corruption Department in the PA's General Intelligence Service (GIS) affirmed that if it weren't for the Israeli authorities, Hamas would have done in the West Bank what they did in Gaza.

Other Palestinians have been arrested by PA authorities, tortured and interrogated. During the interrogations, the question remains the same: Who did you voted for in the last elections? These arrests have targeted students, teachers, journalists and social workers, and are part of a broader plan by Palestinian security forces, which are trained and funded by American and European supporters, to squeeze opposition and secure that Fatah government holds on to power in the West Bank.

The government of Mahmoud Abbas, whose term in office expired for the second time last January, is reinforced by thousands of newly trained police and security forces whose endeavor is to eliminate Islamist groups that may pose a threat to its power - namely Hamas and their supporters. The PA is doing a diligent job of preventing attacks against Israelis but ignoring the daily attacks Palestinians are subjected to at the hands of the Israeli military and settlers. Under the auspices of the US, these security forces have kept "order" on the West Bank towns by squashing dissent. When the Israeli army invades during the night, Palestinian security forces swiftly retreat. Intelligence sharing has enabled joint campaigns of arrest against members of the resistance.

This project has been described as "truly important to advance our national interests, deliver security to Palestinians, and preserve and protect the interests of the state of Israel". I don't see how our American interests are being protected by promoting hatred and division among the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority has become deeply unpopular amongst the Palestinian population by serving Israeli interests. That was one of the main reasons that caused the Palestinians to elect Hamas. We are punishing them because of their democratic election and for wanting an improvement in their economical and political situation. In a democratic country, if the elected officials are not doing the people's will, they have to be replaced. To call on self-determination as a democratic value and on the other hand denying this value to a whole group of people is a poor advertisement to democracy.

Another developing trend is a consensus among the political elite, and even among Arab states, that improving Palestinians' quality of life, even if under military occupation, is the long sought solution for Palestinian misfortunes. How can you improve Palestinian quality of life under an illegal military occupation that is taking working peoples land, resources and freedom?

According to a recent article on the Electronic Intifada, the US Congress approved last July a deposit of $200 million into the PA treasury, under Prime Minister Fayyad's direct control. In September donor countries pledged on the General Assembly $400 million to the PA by the end of 2009. The European Union recently transferred 21 million Euros to "help the Palestinian Authority pay the January salaries and pensions of 80,551 Palestinian public service providers and pensioners." This money is not getting to the Palestinian pockets.

Western benefactors also picked Salam Fayyad for the position of prime minister despite his party obtaining less than three percent of the popular vote in the 2006 legislative elections. He holds exclusive control of the Palestinian coffers which bestow him immense power to implement policies to his own credit. Growing speculation is that he is being groomed by the West to replace Abbas.

The intervention of the US is proving detrimental to the Palestinian democracy and the right of self determination. Under all these conditions of economic underdevelopment, unemployment, unfair detentions, torture and raids, with American contribution, there is a guarantee that a prospect for peace is far from near.

1. The Netanyahu-Fayyad "economic peace" one year on, Ziyaad Lunat, The Electronic Intifada, 10 February 2010

2. A prescription for civil war

3. PA issues arrest warrant for Shabaneh, by KHALED ABU TOAMEH, 10 February 2010