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'Authority of shame' Palestinians vent anger on Abbas

Palestinian Authority under pressure to side with the resistance in Gaza
3 min read
19 October, 2023
Rallies are erupting in the occupied West Bank, including in Ramallah, supporting the blockaded Gaza Strip and the Islamic Resistance Movement-Hamas. Palestinian Authority increasingly is isolated even as it walked out from a summit with Joe Biden.
Palestinians hold a rally in Ramallah against Israeli strikes on Gaza. Protesters are accusing the US, some European countries and some Arab regimes of leading an "aggression" towards the Palestinian people, on 18 October 2023. [Ibrahim Husseini/TNA]

As Israel's war on Gaza nears its third week, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are demanding Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas revoke the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's (PLO) commitments to Israel, including security coordination. 

Rallies are erupting in the occupied West Bank, including Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, in support of the blockaded Gaza Strip and the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, as casualties in the Strip on day 13 of the fighting surpassed 3,500.  

On Wednesday, October 18, protesters held photos of victims of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza as they marched in Ramallah's city centre near the presidential compound, chanting not only against the war but also against the PA, which has long been criticised for "collaborating" with Israel. 

"The people want RPG. Not coordination and CIA, " some of the protesters shouted. 

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Issam Baker, a popular activist and a member of the Al-Sha'ab party, told The New Arab that the PLO must "implement" the resolutions adopted by the Palestinian National Council and the Palestinian Central Council, which call for the withdrawal of recognition of Israel. 

Last year, the Palestinian Central Council voted to rescind the PLO's recognition of Israel and end "all forms of security cooperation" between the PA and Israel. The PLO central committee, however, did not abide. 

"The Palestinian leadership must position the capabilities of the Palestinian people, including those of the Palestinian Authority, to confront Israel", Baker said, strongly implying that the PA security forces, funded by the US and Europe, should take active steps to protect Palestinians. 

'They will rule with an unimaginable iron fist'

As the pressure mounts on Mahmoud Abbas, 87, to take a more assertive stance towards the Israeli occupation, many Palestinians feel that the priority now is to stop the bloodshed in Gaza without losing sight of the dangers lurking in the West Bank. 

As the angry protesters called on the al-Qassam Brigades —  the military wing of Hamas —  "to "strike Tel Aviv" to avenge the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, one of the protesters told TNA that she expects the situation to get worse here in the occupied West Bank anticipating an Israeli control of an "iron fist" exerted on Palestinians. 

"The Israelis will put more checkpoints and bomb us like they're bombing Gaza. The difference is that there is resistance in Gaza but no resistance in the West Bank because here there's a normalising regime", the woman said in reference to the Palestinian Authority. 

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Earlier this week, Mahmoud Abbas cut short a visit to the Jordanian capital as news of the Israeli strike on the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza spread.

Abbas arrived in Ramallah shortly after midnight Wednesday aboard a Jordanian aircraft and immediately convened a meeting with his cabinet. 

'Authority of shame'

In a recent interview with The New Arab's Arabic-language sister publication, Al-Araby al-Jadeed, Hussein Al-Sheikh, the PLO's secretary general, said Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians collectively decided to withdraw from the Amman summit that was initially scheduled to host US President Joe Biden, who was expected to arrive in Amman the same day after his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

On the night of the bombing of the al-Ahli Hospital, PA security forces faced Palestinian protesters in Jenin and Ramallah. The protesters who took to the streets were angered by a perceived lack of a response by the PA, likely prodding Mahmoud Abbas to shun Biden. 

"We've boycotted Biden to send a strong political message," al-Sheikh told Al-Araby al-Jadeed's Naela Khalil, adding a warning that the Israeli government is mulling plans to "displace" Palestinians to both Egypt and Jordan.