Palestinians 'not impressed' by Mahmoud Abbas' visit to Jenin, abandoned to its fate by PA

Palestinians 'not impressed' by Mahmoud Abbas' visit to Jenin, abandoned to its fate by PA
Mahmoud Abbas's visit to Jenin, the first in around 11 years, came at a tense time for the Palestinian Authority, which is being criticised by more and more Palestinians for the PA's lack of policy dealing with Israel's deadly incursions.
4 min read
West Bank
13 July, 2023
Abbas' visit to Jenin was the first in over eleven years. [Getty]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's visit to Jenin on Wednesday received mixed reactions from Palestinians in the city and beyond.

Abbas's visit to Jenin, the first since 2012, came a week after Israeli forces launched the largest and most violent military raid into the refugee camp in decades, killing at least 12 Palestinians and wounding 100.

Accompanied by the PA's Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, the PLO's second-in-command, Hussin Al-Sheikh, and other high-ranking PA officials, Abbas visited the martyrs' cemetery in Jenin, then gave a speech at the camp's centre.

But, the Palestinian president reportedly cancelled a series of meetings with Jenin's popular associations.

"The president's visit was a positive move," Qusai Al-Shami, the brother of Mohammad al-Shami, one of the 12 fatal victims of the latest Israeli raid, said to The New Arab. "I think that the people in the camp waited for such a visit from the head of the government because it's a recognition of our situation that raises the morale of residents."

On the other hand, a Palestinian mother who was forced to leave her home during the raid, and asked not to be named, told TNA that "most people who attended the president's visit were either government employees or high-ranking officials, which in my opinion, shows the lack of interest by the people".

The visit arrived in a tense atmosphere for the Palestinian Authority. The PA is being accused by Israeli officials and recently by US President Joe Biden of losing control of the security situation in the occupied West Bank while at the same time receiving criticism from many Palestinians for failing to protect Palestinian communities from Israeli raids.

Shortly after Israel's attack on Jenin, Jenin residents refused to receive the visit of PA high-ranking officials at the condolences tent for the attack's victims in protest against what some considered the PA's inaction during the Israeli attack.

During the last moments of the Israeli forces' withdrawal from Jenin, young Palestinians also threw stones at PA security forces as they deployed in the streets following the Israeli army's withdrawal.

"We came here to reiterate that we are one authority, one state, one law, and one security", said Abbas in his speech in Jenin, in what some considered an affirmation of his government's control of the situation. Abbas described the Jenin camp as 'heroic' and an 'icon of resistance'.

"I personally did not attend the president's speech because I don't think that it is enough to heal the damage made in Jenin", Mostafa Shita, director of the freedom theatre in the Jenin camp, told TNA.

"Many people in Jenin feel disappointed by the PA's failure to stand up to Israeli raids, and I think that the PA should do something more about it", said Shita.

"I spoke to a Palestinian security officer in the street during the president's visit, and he told me that they, as security forces, can't face the occupation raids because their headquarters would be targeted", noted Shita.

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"I told him that we, as Jenin residents, don't blame them, as security forces, and we really don't, because the issue isn't the security forces", clarified Shita. "It is about the lack of policy, and that's not the security forces' responsibility", he added.

Meanwhile, Abbas reaffirmed the PA's efforts to rebuild the Jenin camp after Israeli destruction, which will cost, according to the PA's special committee, US$15 million. Some Arab countries have already committed to cover the sum, including Algeria and the UAE.