By Khalid Amayreh
Palestinian Authority (PA) security agencies embarked this week on a fresh campaign of repression against activists suspected of affiliation with the Palestinian Islamic liberation group Hamas.
The ongoing campaign reportedly targeted more than a hundred activists across the West Bank. The detainees included college students, community leaders and former political prisoners who languished in Israeli jails and detention camps for prolonged periods.
Hamas described the campaign as representing "a disgraceful subservience to Israeli dictates in the framework of security coordination between Israel and the PA regime."
Palestinian lawmaker Mushir al Masri, a Gaza politician affiliated with Hamas, described the campaign as "another effort by the PA leadership to obtain a certificate of good conduct from (Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu.
"They (the PA) are trying to demonstrate to the Zionist enemy that they are still committed to collaboration and security cooperation with Israel against the Palestinian people."
Masri said the only party benefiting from the sweeping arrests was Israel and the enemies of the Palestinian people.
For its part, the PA denied that the arrests were political in nature.
"These are purely security-related measures," said Osama Kawasmeh, a Fatah spokesman based in Hebron.
The latest arrests come in the aftermath of a number of sporadic attacks in the West Bank where an Israeli settler was killed and others injured in the Nablus region. The Palestinian attacks were apparently in retaliation for the killing by Israel of several Palestinians.
On Friday, the Israeli army murdered a Palestinian youngster near Ramallah. Eyewitnesses described the incident as "cold-blooded murder."
No Palestinian group has claimed responsibility for the Nablus attack. However, Israel, as usual, accused Hamas of responsibility. Hamas has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility, but a statement by the movement reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people, being under a decades-old vicious foreign military occupation, to resist the Israeli occupation using all means necessary.
Having been unable to apprehend the attackers, Israel apparently instructed the PA security agencies to carry out sweeping arrests in an effort to catch the attackers.
The arrests actually show that the entire PA apparatus is at Israel's beck and call, despite the fact that Israel has effectively liquidated any remaining realistic prospects for establishing a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank due to its unrelenting settlement expansion.
Israel considers security "cooperation" with the PA as being the main raison d'être of the PA.
In the past, PA leaders sought to justify close security coordination with Israel, which is actually more of a total subservience to Israeli security whims than a genuine two-way coordination with the Israeli occupation army by invoking the statehood mantra.
Now, however, it seems that the PA is carrying out Israeli orders to the letter in order to maintain its own survival.
According to retired Political Science Professor Abdul Sattar Kassem, it is really hard for the PA to cite objective reasons justifying its "humiliating security coordination with Israel."
"Israel continues to build settlements and confiscate large areas of the West Bank, Israel continues to murder innocent Palestinians nearly on a daily basis, Israel continues to blockade Gaza, Israel continues to give a free rein to fascist Jewish settlers to attack Palestinians and vandalize their property… and despite all of this the PA remains totally faithful to act as policeman and guardian of Israeli occupation interests."
Kassem, who was speaking on al Jazeera TV Friday night, described the PA discourse as treasonous.
"Once you recognize the Zionist occupation and commit yourself to working with it against your people, you are effectively committing an act of treason against the Palestinian people and their just cause."
Receding hopes for Hamas-Fatah reconciliation
The latest detention campaign against Islamic activists in the West Bank, which is being done on Israel's behalf and on Israeli instructions, is considered a sharp blow to reconciliation efforts between Fatah, the backbone of the PA regime, and Hamas.
Moreover, with the political deadlock continuing, unabated mainly due to the absence of any desire for peace on the part of the Israeli government (arguably the most extreme in Israel's history), it is likely that the overall political situation in occupied Palestine will exacerbate further, with the possibility of new forces appearing on the Palestinian arena.
*the views expressed in the Opinion section are those of the authors
Source : The Palestinian Information Center