The People Protest the Palestinian Authority Leadership
Palestinian Arabs took to the streets in protest against their leaders on Friday and Saturday as martial law was declared by Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh. All mosques and businesses have been ordered closed between Friday and Monday for the Eid al-Fitr holiday; no cars are allowed on the roads, and people are not permitted to leave their homes.
The reason given for the closure: Residents of the PA who work in Israel returned to their homes for the holiday and they brought the coronavirus back with them.
“This was the last straw,” said Waheed Tahan of Jerusalem. Mohammad Massad, leader of the Palestinian Workers’ Organization (PWO), was adamant when he said, “Nobody believes them.”
The Coronavirus pandemic was a turning point for the Palestinian Arab people, according to Massad, as it demonstrated the huge difference between the behavior of the PA and that of Israel. He lamented that people are starving in their homes.
While businesses are closed and there is no work, the PA leadership has not been passing on to the residents any of the international human aid sent to provide relief to the people, Massad said. Instead, it goes into the leaders’ own pockets.
Furthermore, social benefits paid out by Israel to those who work in the country are not going into the employees’ personal bank accounts but into those of the PA leadership. This was the trigger for the recent establishment of the PWO that has, to date, acquired a membership numbering 42,000.
The PWO filed a petition with the Supreme Court last week asking Israel not to lend 800 million shekels to the PA because the residents will not see any of it.
On May 12, Israel’s Mako TV channel reported on the change of heart toward Israel on the part of Arabs in eastern Jerusalem.
Before the Corona pandemic, explained eastern Jerusalem resident and social activist Daoud Siam, Jerusalem municipal inspectors would enter the city to give out fines or destroy illegal construction, but now they are handing out food to hungry residents. He told journalist Ohad Hemo:
When Israel comes to distribute [food], you see, what do those who steal the money say? ‘It’s poison. Do not accept [anything] from them. Don’t let them buy you with a bag of groceries.’… Did the PA not get 800 million shekels? Why should I not get [food]?
More recently, the PA refused to accept humanitarian aid shipped from the United Arab Emirates because it arrived via Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport. Palestinian government sources argued that this was a cover for normalization of relationships with Israel and that the PA refuses to serve as a bridge for that UAE-Israel ties.
‘The Jewish Regime is More Compassionate’
Muslim pro-Israeli activist Sara Zoabi, a citizen of Israel, told United with Israel that the PA leadership “enjoys” the conflict with Israel because the money continues to flow into their coffers. “They do not care about the Palestinian people,” she says.
According to Zoabi, there is almost no Palestinian Arab resident who does not have personal experience with Israelis, whether an IDF soldier or a resident of a nearby Jewish community in Judea and Samaria. She claims that a large part of the Palestinian population wants Israel to extend its sovereignty over them.
“The Jewish regime is more compassionate,” she said. She told of her uncle in the PA who used to say that he was happy when he would see an IDF tank enter his village.
Massad said that the Palestinian street is showing that they want an end to the PA leadership: “We are sick and tired of the corrupt leaders, and we want the PA to fall and Israel to come in. We won’t let anyone tell us who our leaders should be.”
He has a message for Western journalists who see Abbas as a man of peace: “If he is a man of peace and a good leader, then let them take him to the White House.”
Tahan, too, was clear about preferring Israeli sovereignty over the PA regime, adding that many Palestinian Arabs curse the day the Oslo Accords were signed. He spoke about the jubilation with which the Palestinian people greeted Arafat when he arrived. “We welcomed them as liberators and had hopes that they were decent leaders,” he said.
However, they soon saw that this was an illusion. They saw how the PLO members arrived poverty-stricken – “they slept in the streets” – and within a few years were living in magnificent homes and driving expensive cars while the potholes in the streets kept growing.
Many, like Massad, regret the first Intifada that brought about the Oslo process. “We brought in the criminals from Tunis and Lebanon,” he conceded.
He also recognizes the boomerang effect of terror against Israelis: “The bullet that kills one Israeli ends up killing one thousand Arabs,” he said. “We want to be free.”
Meanwhile, Abbas continues to weave his web of deception, blaming the protests on the fact that the PA has ended the security cooperation with Israel, Kan News reported Saturday evening. He went on to warn Israel about Hamas gaining strength and carrying out terror attacks.
Massad denies there is anything to this threat, and Tahan says it is typical of Abbas to deflect blame for what he himself has caused. “Every time the PA wants to justify its brutality, it will use the excuse that they’re fighting against Hamas. That Hamas card is getting really old.”
First published in United with Israel on 24 May 2020.