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The aftermath of an activist’s murder reveals possibilities for Palestinian resistance to thrive

March 14, 2017 at 10:42 am

Palestinians gather to protest against the trial of Basel al-Araj, who was killed during a raid by Israeli soldiers at his home in West Bank on March 12, 2017 ( Issam Rimawi – Anadolu Agency )

Israel’s murder of Palestinian activist and intellectual Basel Al-Araj has unleashed further evidence of how the Palestinian Authority deals with dissenting views and protests. Following the news that the PA is still going to put Al-Araj’s comrades on trial for alleged possession of weapons — as well as the murdered man himself, posthumously (you couldn’t make this up) — Palestinians took to the streets to protest against the authority’s security coordination with Israel. Journalists covering the protests were also assaulted by PA security forces to disrupt and prevent them from doing their job; some reported that their equipment was damaged during the assault.

Image of Palestinian Basel Al-Araj who was shot dead by Israeli forces on 6 March 2017 [Abeer-Almasri/Twitter]

Image of Palestinian Basel Al-Araj who was shot dead by Israeli forces on 6 March 2017 [Abeer-Almasri/Twitter]

Among the injured protestors was Basel’s father, Mahmoud Al-Araj, who was hospitalised. He has threatened to embark upon a hunger strike if all detained Palestinians are not released immediately.

Given the level of their shameful collaboration with Israel, it is hardly surprising that PA security forces’ spokesman Adnan Al-Dmeiri described the Palestinian protestors — without a hint of irony — as “mercenaries” and “foreign agents”. He dismissed their demonstration as “cheap incitement”.

Meanwhile, Ma’an news agency revealed that Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has appointed “a fact-finding committee to investigate events which occurred during an anti-Palestinian Authority protest”. It was further reported that Hamdallah declared the Palestinian leadership’s purported “commitment” to protecting journalists.

Read: Basel’s story

Political amnesia conveniently eliminated the fact that, far from protecting Palestinian journalists, recent reports by the Palestinian Centre for Media and Press Freedom (MADA) suggest that the PA does the exact opposite. Testimony by Sami Al-Sa’ee revealed his experience of torture at the hands of the PA security services.

With each step it takes, the PA reveals more of itself as part of a seamless mechanism for corrupt collaboration. The options available to ordinary Palestinian can thus be viewed as either completely restricted or, through collective efforts to dissociate from the internationally-recognised leadership, open to several possibilities united by resistance.

The latter would take the concept of delegitimisation to another level. So far, this concept has been restricted to Israel’s actions, while the PA has been shielded from reaping what it sows by the international community, which needs the collaborative efforts of Mahmoud Abbas, as well as the PA’s penchant for symbolic victories at the UN. When analysing the lack of impact of the PA’s overtures at an international level, it is important to realise that the same oblivion afflicting Palestinian rights in relation to symbolism extends to violations of rights committed by the PA security forces.

Read: Palestinian Basel Al-Araj’s will

Albeit in a scattered and disorganised manner, Palestinians have already taken steps towards the possibility of united resistance. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hamas, for example, have repeatedly denounced the PA and its collaborative efforts in thwarting Palestinian efforts to resist Israel’s military occupation.

However, delegitimising the PA requires a consistent effort to build the foundations of Palestinian legitimacy through the people. This would entail the organisation of Palestinian resistance against PA collaboration on a permanent basis rather than as action required only when violations reach proportions deemed worthy of media attention. It is likely that, had the victim been someone less recognisable than Al-Araj, a much lower degree of outrage might have been reported. Such selectivity plays into the hands of the PA, owing to unwarranted differentiation between victims. However, if more attention is focused upon Palestinian Authority security coordination — collaboration with the occupier in all but name — as a collective violation against all Palestinians rather than its atrocities hitting the headlines only when they involve prominent individuals, some notable progress towards preserving Palestinian resistance would be made.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.