It seems natural that residents in the occupied West Bank where two intifadas failed to drive out the Israelis would want to celebrate Tunisia’s successful uprising — but that isn’t allowed under Mahmoud Abbas’ watch. He, it would seem, identifies more strongly with Tunisia’s ousted president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
When Palestinians gathered in Ramallah on Wednesday to rally in support of the revolution in Tunisia, the Palestinian presidency ordered the police to prevent any demonstrations or flying of the Tunisian flag, Le Monde reports [h/t Ali Abunimah].
The incident provides further evidence, that as Aisling Byrne writes below, the West Bank under Mahmoud Abbas’ rule is being turned into a police state.
“If we are building a police state — what are we actually doing here?” So asked a European diplomat responding to allegations of torture by the Palestinian security forces. The diplomat might well ask. A police state is not a state. It is a form of larceny: of people’s rights, aspirations and sacrifices, for the personal benefit of an élite. This is not what the world meant when it called for statehood. But a police state is what is being assiduously constructed in Palestine, disguised as state-building and good governance. Under this guise, its intent is to facilitate the authoritarianism which creates sufficient popular dependency — and fear — to strangle any opposition.
The transition from the lofty aspiration of statehood to a scheme intended to usher West Bank Palestinians into a new alleviated containment — a new form of remotely-managed occupation — is not some unfortunate error. The roots of this manipulation of the Palestinian aspiration into its opposite — cynically dressed up and sold as statehood — were present from the outset. Professor Yezid Sayyigh has shown how U.S. and EU rhetoric “promoting democratic development and the rule of law is pious at best, at worst disingenuous”. Both America and Europe bear responsibilities for this betrayal.
The seed of this deception which was to grow into a new police state in the region was the US and European acquiescence to Israel’s self-definition of its own security needs — and by extension, Israel’s definition of the requirements for Palestinian security collaboration. This Faustian pact, which prioritized Israel’s security-led criteria as the boundaries for negotiations — above any principles of justice — set the scene for the inevitable inflation of Israeli demands of security collusion by the Palestinian leadership — demands on which America’s ‘war on terrorism’ poured fuel. [Continue reading…]