In the days before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivered his speech at the UN General Assembly on September 27, his security forces were waging a massive crackdown on his critics and opponents in the West Bank, arresting more than 100 Palestinians. (UN Photo/Cia Pak)
The Palestinian Authority (PA) says it wants the international community to exert pressure on Israel to "halt violations against the Palestinians and international law." The demand was relayed to members of a delegation from the European Parliament who met on October 8 in Ramallah with PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. At the meeting, Hamdallah also renewed the PA's call for providing "international protection" for the Palestinians.
Hamdallah's appeal to the European Parliament representatives should be seen in the context of the PA leadership's ongoing campaign of lies and incitement against Israel. The appeal also smacks of hypocrisy and deceit.
Hamdallah is apparently referring to Israel's defensive measures along the border between the Gaza Strip, where thousands of Hamas supporters have been staging violent demonstrations since March 2018. As part of the Hamas-orchestrated protests, which are sometimes called the "March of Return," Palestinians have been infiltrating the border with Israel and hurling firebombs and explosive devices at Israeli soldiers. They have also been launching arson kites and booby-trapped balloons towards Israeli communities near the border with the Gaza Strip.
Hamdallah and his boss, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, believe that Israel has no right to defend itself against the campaign of terrorism waged by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip. In their eyes, it is fine for Palestinians to throw explosive devices and firebombs at soldiers, but it is completely unacceptable for the soldiers to defend themselves. According to the twisted logic of the Palestinian leaders, it all started when Israel fired back.
Those who sent the Palestinians to clash with the Israeli soldiers along the border with the Gaza Strip are the only ones who bear responsibility for killing more than 150 Palestinians and injuring thousands of others. The Hamas-engineered "March of Return" is nothing but a declaration of war on Israel. It is another phase in the Palestinian campaign of terrorism to force Israel to its knees. When suicide bombings and rockets do not achieve their goal of forcing Israel to submit, the Palestinians resort to incendiary kites and balloons, and to stabbings and shootings to achieve their goal.
The goal the Palestinians have in mind is to see Israel gone. All of it. Abbas believes he can achieve this goal by waging a diplomatic war against Israel in the international community -- one that is aimed at delegitimizing and demonizing Israel and Jews. His rivals in Hamas believe that Israel could and should be destroyed through terrorism and other acts of violence.
The PA prime minister's strategy of crying foul against Israel is part of a long-standing Palestinian tradition of rallying the world against Israel.
In fact, it is in keeping with the famous Arab saying: "He hit me and cried, he raced me to complain." This saying reflects the state of mind of the Palestinian leaders, according to which the perpetrator pretends to be the victim.
However, this is more than just pretending to be the victim. The approach of the Palestinian leaders is not only fraudulent, but also extraordinarily hypocritical.
While Hamdallah was complaining about Israeli "violations," his security forces in the West Bank were continuing their daily assaults on public freedoms, including freedom of the media. Just as the meeting was taking place in Ramallah, a Palestinian group published a report about large-scale human rights violations committed by Hamdallah's and Abbas's various security forces.
As the meeting was underway, Palestinian Authority security forces arrested yet another Palestinian journalist in the city of Hebron: Amer Abu Arafeh. The journalist, who was released 24 hours later, said his Palestinian interrogators tried to force him to give them the password to his Facebook page.
The European Parliament delegation were not made privy to a report about this latest assault on the Palestinian media during their meeting with the PA prime minister. This is not something that concerns them or the EU because the journalist was not targeted by Israel. Why should they open their mouths about arrest of a Palestinian journalist if Israel is not involved?
Nor did the European Parliament delegation hear about the report published by a group called The Committee of Families of Political Prisoners in the West Bank. The committee consists of families and relatives of Palestinians who are regularly and systematically targeted by the PA security forces, largely because of their affiliation with Palestinian opposition groups, including Hamas, or for openly criticizing Palestinian leaders.
The report, which was made public while the EU officials were taking in Hamdallah's accusations against Israel, charges the PA with intensifying its assaults on public freedoms in the West Bank. This is not the kind of account that Hamdallah would be interested in sharing with his European guests.
In its report, the committee says it has documented 685 assaults by the Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank on public freedoms just during the month of September. The assaults include, among other things, massive arbitrary arrests and detentions, summons' for interrogation, raids on homes and confiscation of property. The report pointed out that this marked a dramatic increase in human rights violations compared with previous months.
According to the report, the PA security forces arrested more than 100 Palestinians in the days before Abbas delivered his speech at the UN General Assembly on September 27. Abbas devoted large parts of his speech to condemning Israel, which he accused of "suffocating" the Palestinians and "undermining our serious efforts to build the institutions of our cherished state."
Abbas, however, refrained from mentioning to the UN General Assembly that while he was speaking, his security forces were waging a massive crackdown on his critics and opponents in the West Bank. As far as Abbas is concerned, this is not something that the world should know about. The evil he and others see is only on the Israeli side.
Back to the report, which neither Abbas nor his prime minister cares to share with the world. According to this report, among those arrested or detained during September are 37 university students, eight school teachers, seven journalists, 55 university faculty members and lecturers, five engineers and 23 merchants. The report also revealed that four Palestinian detainees have gone on hunger strikes in Palestinian prison to protest their illegal incarceration.
So, we are again witnessing an act of fraud and deception on the part of Abbas and his senior officials in Ramallah. Palestinian leaders have convinced themselves that they can continue to spread their lies to the world while hiding the truth about what is happening within their repressive and corrupt regime in the West Bank. They believe that, because of the world's silence, they can continue to lie to everyone all the time.
The question, again, remains whether the international community will ever wake up to realize that Palestinian leaders are playing them for fools. The European Parliament delegation that visited Ramallah is a good test case: What message will its members convey back at home: the truth about the ruthless and repressive PA, or the lies that were spoon-fed to them by Abbas and his friends?
Bassam Tawil is an Arab Muslim based in the Middle East.