When Israel targeted Palestinian non-governmental rights organisations in 2021 and 2022, the Palestinian Authority embarked on its own exploitation campaign. “In a show of solidarity, President Abbas meets with Palestinian civil society organisations targeted by Israel,” one of Wafa news agency’s headlines read in 2021. Israel’s targeting of Palestinian NGOs in 2021 and 2022, including former Israeli Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, designating six organisations as “terrorist” without providing evidence, allowed the PA, very briefly, to pretend to champion a cause that works against its authoritarianism. But illusory state-building needs its own gimmicks, until it is time to dissolve the brief façade and take a stance against human rights, as is the PA’s penchant.
Back in 2021, PA leader, Mahmoud Abbas, had stated, “We all stand with these national institutions that do their duty to expose the crimes of the occupation and expose them to the world.” So now that the PA is refusing to renew the registration of the Palestinian organisation Lawyers for Justice which defends Palestinians targeted by the PA and its security services, it stands to reason that the PA does not want its crimes against Palestinians exposed globally.
According to Human Rights Watch, the PA’s Intelligence Services are claiming that Lawyers for Justice accepted foreign funding and engaged in non-profit activities. If its registration is not renewed, the organisation can lose access to its premises and funds. It is no surprise that the PA’s objections to renewing the organisation’s registration coincide with the increasing unification of the Palestinian people and their anti-colonial resistance. Much of Lawyers for Justice’s work focuses on the PA’s violations against Palestinian civilians – a reality that would be obscured were it not for specific organisations taking up this task. Israel’s international law violations are more prominent than the PA’s, even though the latter collaborates with Israel and benefits in return. There is no way the PA could retain its rule, were it not for Israeli and foreign backing, which is enough to keep it afloat and prevent a democratically elected leadership from emerging.
So the PA differentiates between Israeli violations and its own, merely because the former gives Abbas the necessary structure to score points in the state-building illusion. Yet, the same measure does not apply to its own violations, even if the PA exhibited the extent of its violence when the security services killed Nizar Banat in June 2021.
The more the PA tries to cling to its façade as the only possible political representation, and not only in relation to Hamas, but to Palestinians whose political thought is not necessarily tied to the most prominent factions, the more it exhibits its own violence. Obstructing Lawyers for Justice by refusing to renew its registration is proof of how much Palestinians need safeguarding from the PA. While the PA calls for international protection against Israel, knowing the international community will never grant it, Palestinians are being oppressed daily by Abbas and the security services, with no political entity calling for their protection against violence from within.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.