More pictures of today’s protest can be found here
Under the pouring rain, Palestinians for the first time took part in a protest right in front of the Palestinian Authority compound Al-Muqata’a, which has become to symbolize, as one of the more lavish foreign funded state-building projects, an illusion of authority under the Israeli occupation. In her article describing the PA’s spatial organization of state structures, Linda Tabar quotes an official who describes the Muqata’a as an image “of grandeur that creates the impression we have a state.”
The protest, organized by a group of young Palestinians who called themselves Palestinians for Dignity, was against the farcical “negotiations about negotiations” currently taking place in Amman, Jordan between the PA represented by unelected chief negotiator Sa’eb Erekat (who incidentally, resigned his post after it was revealed that the Palestine Papers were leaked from his office in 2011) and the Israeli delegation, headed by Yitzhak Molcho. A third meeting is expected to run today between the two sides, after the first two were conducted last week on January 3rd and January 10th respectively.
From the statement released by the youth, the ongoing negotiations have once again commenced without any pre-conditions:
Counting on the same fruitless and failing process of the past two decades, the negotiations contradict past PLO statements that have explicitly rejected negotiations until settlement expansion is frozen, borders are clearly referenced and defined, and the fulfillment of the release of all political prisoners.
It has become increasingly obvious that the PA and its leadership have stopped pretending to sugarcoat their salient acts with their occupier, which do not reflect the interests of the Palestinians. In fact, twenty years of failed negotiations have only made the life of the average Palestinian more miserable as a result of the enhanced state of occupation they live in, as the rapid land grabs and construction of settlements are implemented with the full knowledge and even blessing of the PA negotiating team.
The statement continues,
Palestinian youth are fed up with illegitimate representation, a national consensus that does not unite them, and of a future state that does not guarantee the rights of the majority of the Palestinian people, in specific, Palestinian refugees in exile.
We demand a strategy that is supported by political, economic, academic and cultural boycott of the Zionist entity, the strengthening of the steadfastness of the people, and preparation for direct elections to the Palestinian National Council (PNC) representative of Palestinians across the world.
The protest didn’t say silent for long. In my opinion, Palestinian silent protests are an oxymoron. Pretty soon, abetted by the expressive posters, vigorous chants were shouted by those in attendance who numbered around one hundred. Plainclothes police once again “infiltrated” the protest, but their faces were familiar to many who were involved in the now obsolete March 15th youth movement.
Chants called for Saeb Erekat to go home, and asserted that the right of return was not for sale. One variation was that the blood of the martyrs was not going to be sold out. Negotiations and normalization were used interchangeably in the chants— such as “The people demand an end to negotiatons/normalization”— as in this context they were really synonymous after all. One popular chant was “Right of Return, Freedom, National Dignity/ عودة, حرية, كرامة وطنية”
The plainclothes police moved to the other side of the street, the side of the Muqata’a. They watched us from inside their cars and a couple even took pictures, which forcibly reminded me of the Israeli army during the weekly protests in the village of Nabi Saleh who carry out the same act. After an hour and a half, the protest was over, but not before the youth shouted that if the message today wasn’t heard by the PA leadership, then there will be more protests to follow.
Shortly afterwards, one young man from Tulkarem who participated in the protest (and who prefers to remain anonymous) was attacked and arrested by the PA security forces. His arrest lasted for two hours, including an hour of interrogation about the names of the people who were chanting against the PA.
There is no longer a psychological barrier of fear against the Palestinian Authority and its security forces. Their interests are to consolidate their elitist status while the majority of the Palestinians continue to suffer from a two-tiered tyranny: The Israeli occupation and its bestial policies, and the suppression and stifling rule of the main Palestinian parties, Fateh in the shape of the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. We will not stand by anymore on the sidelines, as outdated so-called representatives negotiate our rights away with the same side that is continuously oppressing us. It is simply ludicrous, shameful, and outright embarrassing that these negotiations still occupy a space in the Palestinian political spectrum. Only free men and women negotiate, and for all their money, expensive cars and villas, and security coordinated travel permits, the Palestinian leadership is still at the end of the day occupied by Israel and its caprices.
UPDATE: The incident with the arrested young man, Said al-Edreesy, is now public