Saturday, 8 December 2018

A Shocking Exposure of Failure, Deep Corruption, Torture, Human Rights Abuses by the Palestinian Authority.

A        Tim Sebastian (Conflict Zone) interviews Saeb Erekat (Palestinian Authority).
Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, and redundant since the PA refuses to negotiate with Israel, or even talk 
with the US Administration, talked to Tim Sebastian of Conflict Zone about Palestinian “democracy,” a strange concept since they haven’t had national elections since 2006. They also have a deep and unbridgeable political chasm between the PLO-Fatah Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and the Hamas-Islamic Jihad control of the Gaza Strip as a result of a coup d’etat in 2007. 67% are dissatisfied with the performance of the Palestinian Authority .62% want Mahmoud Abbas to resign. The latest polling show that 80& believe there is widespread corruption in the PA, nepotism, bribery, abuse of public funds, lack of transparency.
The Palestinian watchdog, Aman, issued a blistering report that the Palestinian Legislative Council has been dysfunctional for the past eleven years which has led to the loss of the most important official instrument of control and accountability.”
“The Palestinian Legislative Council has been dysfunctional for the past 11 years which led to…the loss of the most important official instrument of control and accountability.”
Erekat: “Do we have corruption? Yes.”
Sebastian” “In 2017, Shawqi Al-Issa, Miister of Agriculture said “It was not permitted to carry out any action to reduce corruption. Well qualified officials were removed, while those suspected of corruption had their positions strengthened.”
Erekat: I know Shawqi Al-Issa. He is in the opposition and he is entitled to say whatever he wants.”
Sebastian: “What about the case of Palestinian Airlines? Aman said that the Palestinian Treasury continued to pay salaries to hundreds of employees of Palestinian Airlines. There is, of course, no Palestinian Airlines.
Erekat; “Our four planes were destroyed by the Israelis, and we have people working there…”
Sebastian:  “Hundreds of salaries.”
Erekat: “Not hundreds…”
Sebastian: “It’s a big fraud, Mr Erekat. Human Rights Watch has just released a credible report of shocking human rights abuses by your security services. They say there are 147 cases as you know well. Shocking abuse in violation of international human rights law, including torture, that contravene the international legal obligations that you took when you signed up to the Human Rights Treaty over the last five years. Torture extensively documented may amount to a crime against humanity. (HRW. October 23, 2018). You have torture on a daily basis and you call yourself a democracy?”
Erekat: “We are acting on this.”
Sebastian: “I got the same answer from you for the last 10, 15, 20 years. “
Erekat: “You know me, Tim.”
Sebastian: “Yes, I do, and you make the same excuses for these abuses year after year.”
Erekat: “I live in Jericho because I refuse to rent an apartment at the expense of the Palestinians.”
Sebastian: “You live in Jericho and in Jericho some of the harshest treatments reported by detainees take place in Jericho. At the Joint Security Committee Detention Center. This is Human Rights Watch reporting. Officers force prisoners into painful stress positions locked in solidarity confinement. A young man from the Balata refugee camp said he was twice subjected to electric shock treatment and once had a cord tied around his genitals. So much for signing the convention against torture.”
Erekat: “We are members of the Convention Against Torture…”
Sebastian: “…and you violate it on a regular basis.”
Erekat: “The 147 cases over three years are being investigated. People who committes these atrocities will be held accountable.”
Sebastian: “How many of these people have been held accountable? How many? You can’t tell me. 3? 5? 7?”
Erekat: “Wait a minute. Security officials were fired. They were demoted.”
Sebastian: “How many?”
Erekat: “I can’t give you a number, but many.”
Sebastian: “You are also cracking down on freedom of speech as well.”
Erekat: “How?”
Sebastian: “January of last year, your security forces detained Faris Jabua, a student from Hebron about his participation at a book event organized by the Islamic group at his university. He’d already been arrested 5 times on charges that turned out to be false. You go after these people again and again and again. He was taken on one occasion to the Jericho Detention Center where officers alternated between kicking and hitting him with a stick…”
Erekat smiled.
Sebastian: “You’re smiling.”
Erekat: “No, because I live in Jericho and people wake me up at 2 am and 3 am and 4 am in the morning to tell me their sons and their daughters are taken here and there and I go with them…”
Sebastian: “So you know what is going on.”
Erekat: “Of course! And I go and tell them to stop it in the name of the President. We admit it. We don’t hide it.”
Sebastian: “Aren’t you ashamed of all this?”
Erekat: “In some cases I am ashamed. Yes. Sometimes I can because I am a man of authority.  I cannot differentiate between freedom of expression and incitement. Sometimes we have people who attack others because of their religion and so on and I’m ashamed of it.”
Sebastian: “Is this what a future Palestinian state would look like? Human rights abuses. Torture. Crackdown on free speech. Internet control.”
Erekat: “The future Palestinian state will be the future of democracy …human rights…transparency and the rule of law…This is my promise.”
Sebastian: “That’s very different from what you have now.”

Erekat: “No,  With 6 million people living in the West Bank and in Gaza we have 147 cases and we hope that will be reduced…”

Sebastian: “That’s all we have time for. Saeb Erekat. Thank you very much.”

Barry Shaw, Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.
Author of ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS, and Anti-Semitism.’

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