Palestinian Authority Acting Authoritarian

The Fatah dominated Palestinian Authority is carrying out a vigorous campaign against members of Hamas and anyone who does not support the government of President Abbas. According to Al Ahram, hundreds of schoolteachers, college students, journalists and other professionals have been arrested and imprisoned on vague charges such as “constituting a threat to state security.” Al Ahram sources insist “in villages and cities throughout the West Bank, PA security agencies raided Islamic-oriented cultural and academic centres, non-governmental organizations, sports clubs as well as schools and charitable organizations, closing them down and arresting members.” A particular target are journalists who are critical of the Abbas government failure to respect human rights.

There is little question Fatah leaders fear a repeat of the successful Hamas takeover of Gaza and intend to thwart that possibility by arresting Hamas leaders and supporters. Although there is scant evidence Hamas is actually a threat in the West Bank, the government is determined to avoid such an outcome in the future. On the political front, Fatah has been able to secure the support of the Egyptian government which carries out the Abbas policy of refusing to allow Hamas to obtain credit for any aid to the Gaza blockace.

In the midst of Palestinian internal conflict, talks with Israel are at a standstill. If nothing happens to end the logjam between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, Palestinians may decide to end their goal of a two state solution and become part of Israel. Such an outcome would frighten most Israelis.