Know More About Palestine

Monday Oct. 25, 2010 11:58 AM (EST+7)
Is Palestine becoming another Middle East police state?

Read more: Palestine, Palestinian Authority, security forces, security apparatus

RAMALLAH, Oct. 25 (JMCC) - The paramount achievement of the Salam Fayyad government has been the establishment of an effective security force capable of reigning in violence and bringing order to the once-chaotic West Bank.

But without concurrent political reform are the security forces acting merely as an instrument of repression, cracking down on dissidents and political opponents?

And is the United States, who is training and funding the new security personnel of the Palestinian Authority, simply allying itself with another undemocratic government in the Middle East?

The West's fixation on the goods currently being delivered in Palestine by Prime Minister Fayyad is perhaps best symbolized by the fact that Tom Friedman, the English speaking world's greatest condenser of conventional foreign policy wisdom, has awarded him with his own -ism: Fayyadism, defined by Friedman as a nonviolent struggle [against the Israeli occupation]... building non-corrupt transparent institutions and effective police and paramilitary units.

Appointed Prime Minister in 2007 in the wake of the Fatah-Hamas civil war, Fayyad operates without a political mandate. After Hamas' takeover of Gaza in June 2007, President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the Fatah-Hamas unity government and, at the encouragement of the Bush administration, created an emergency government and began to rule by presidential decree, which he does to this day, effectively under a state of emergency that resembles Egypt's. The Palestinian Legislative Council hasn't met since 2007. National elections were scheduled for January 2010, and local elections for June, but there's no sign either will be held any time soon.

While Fayyad's accomplishments in cleaning up government corruption, promoting greater financial transparency, and clamping down on terrorism are indisputable, there is evidence that the PA's forces (U.S. trained and funded) have also directed their energies against peaceful political activities.

In August, the Ma'an News Agency reported that members of the PA General Intelligence Service attempted to quash a rally against the PA re-entering direct talks in the absence of an Israeli settlement freeze, and then assaulted field workers from the Palestinian rights group Al-Haq as they attempted to document the Intelligence Service's activities.

The most recent Freedom House survey of Palestinian civil rights and press freedom gave the PA a grade of not free.

While the PA parades each of its new initiatives before the media, it obstructs, manipulates and lies about what it is doing against opposition movements, says George Hale, an editor for Ma'an. Palestinians hold protests somewhat regularly on issues like the cancelled municipal elections, and the PA security forces often break them up when they get too loud. The level of intimidation is high. According to Hale, It's the protests that aren't happening which reveal more about the levels of freedom.

Read the full analysis at Foreign Policy...






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