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The PA was always meant to ‘kill’ the Palestinian cause

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Outspoken Palestinian Authority (PA) critic Nizar Banat’s June 24 death at the hands of the PA’s security forces sparked weeks of protests and international criticism. This came on the heels of unprecedented protests against the seizure of Palestinian homes by Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem and a brutal Israeli war on Gaza.

Palestinians who protested over the death of Banat consider PA President Mahmoud Abbas to be complicit in the actions of the Israeli occupation and call for the fall of his government.

In a recent interview with The Media Line, the PA’s Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh apologised to the family of Banat, on behalf of President Abbas. He further explained, “Maybe a mistake occurred during the action of law enforcement. Even if he [Banat] was demanded by law or wanted to appear for justice, there is nothing to justify the matter whatsoever.” However, in the face of continued criticism, the PA also cancelled Article 22 of the “Code of Conduct” for civil servants that guarantees “freedom of expression”.

The Mahmoud Abbas-led PA has a long and well-documented track record of brutally suppressing opposition activists. But the crisis of legitimacy the PA is currently facing is not just a result of Abbas’s authoritarianism.

This crisis is as much an enduring legacy of the Oslo Accords that established the PA, not as a vehicle of the Palestinian national movement, but as an institutional mechanism purpose-built to circumscribe any form of Palestinian activism that aims to confront the Israeli occupation. Palestinian protesters are increasingly challenging that structure, and the two-state solution for which it ostensibly strives.

That the PA would be unconcerned with the Palestinian national movement was already apparent in the “letters of mutual recognition” exchanged by Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman and Fatah leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on September 9, 1993.

In his letter, Arafat recognised Israel’s right to “exist in peace and security”, declared that the PLO would renounce violence and took responsibility for preventing violent attacks on Israel and disciplining violators of the agreement.

In his response, Rabin did not recognise the Palestinian demand for statehood or sovereignty. Instead, he only accepted the PLO as the “representative of the Palestinian people” and agreed to begin negotiations.

The Oslo Accords then established the PA and the........

© Al Jazeera

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