Palestinian Authority’s coordination with Israel back to forefront after minister’s martyrdom

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Palestinian security members carry the coffin of senior Palestinian official Ziad Abu Ein during his funeral in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 11, 2014. AFP/Ahmed Gharabli

Published Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Palestinian Authority faces yet another embarrassing situation, and it will likely not live up to the expectations. The option of a settlement died 20 years ago, and will not bear fruit today. The olive tree Minister Ziad Abu Ein wished to plant, before he was killed by the occupation, will – to Mahmoud Abbas – bear witness to the "death of peace," or the steadfastness of Palestinians in their land.

Although the "peaceful" popular resistance advocated by the Palestinian Authority (PA) proved to be ineffective in the face of the occupation’s logic of force, Minister Ziad Abu Ein persisted along this path until he was killed by Israeli soldiers on Tuesday, December 10. He received several blows to his chest with rifle butts and iron helmets, and inhaled large amounts of teargas.

Abu Ein, who spoke to Al-Akhbar a few days ago about internal issues within Fatah, insisted on inviting a large number of reporters to cover the peaceful march near the town of Turmsayya north of Ramallah. But the documented assault against the minister prior to his martyrdom only compelled PA President Mahmoud Abbas to announce a three-day official mourning period, and the formation of a medical committee to conduct the autopsy, which includes two Jordanian doctors and one Israeli doctor.

According to the preliminary coroner report, the man may have died of a heart attack. So will this absolve Israel of the crime of causing his death, although its forces chased Abu Ein and his companions to prevent them from planting olive trees in a land the occupation intends to confiscate?

This is only the first step. Ramallah – as well as Jordan, the Arab League, and others – have denounced and condemned the attack, while the PA has only threatened to suspend security cooperation, without indicating how long the suspension of this process, on the basis of which the PA was founded, would last.

Tuesday's crime shed light on the participation of senior Fatah officials in popular marches against Israeli soldiers, as well as on the embarrassment to the PA – which supports the settlement process – caused by Israel's targeting of a prominent figure, while it disregards the martyrdom of many regular Palestinian citizens.

In parallel, Hamas and Islamic Jihad called for using the occasion to take a firm decision with regards to the security cooperation with Israel. After offering their condolences for Abu Ein's martyrdom, the two groups declared their support for reactivating the intifada in the occupied West Bank. In addition, a statement by al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah's military wing, called on its members to retaliate for the minister's assassination. However, the latter will likely not spark a new confrontation, especially since the issue is prone to getting covered up given the composition of the inquiry committee.

Remarkably, Ramallah Prime Minister Rami Alhamdulillah asked Jordan to send one or two doctors to take part in the autopsy, since all previous inquiry committees including Palestinian doctors were considered biased from the Israeli point of view.

Abu Ein was a member of Fatah's Revolutionary Council and a representative of the Ministry of Prisoners, before being appointed as minister of the Wall and Settlement Authority through a decree by the PA’s president.

For his part, Abbas described the "brutal attack leading to Aby Ayn’s martyrdom as a barbaric act, which cannot be accepted." However, he postponed taking "the necessary measures" until "the results of the inquiry into the martyrdom of freedom fighter Abu Ein are known."

The martyr was known for his long history of struggle against the occupation. He was intermittently held in US and Israeli prisons over 13 years. In 1981, he became the first Arab Palestinian detainee to be delivered by the US to Israel, despite seven resolutions issued by the United Nations calling on Washington to set him free.

Even after the assault, the occupation soldiers continued to suppress the demonstrators as the incident was expected to have serious consequences. Journalists who were at the march said this was the first time they witnessed such a forceful attack by the Israeli soldiers on old people in particular. A 14-year-old boy named Raouf Snawbar was seriously injured in clashes at the main entrance of al-Jalzon Camp north of Ramallah. Three young men were also arrested, and scores of demonstrators protesting Abu Ein's martyrdom were hit with live ammunition and metal bullets.

In related news, the occupation forces, in collaboration with several settlers, prevented dozens of Palestinians from working on their lands in the northern Jordan Valley, and declared the area – estimated at 10,000 dunums – as a closed military zone.

It was reported on Wednesday night that Abbas called for an urgent meeting of the PA leadership to discuss Abu Ein’s martyrdom. US Secretary of State John Kerry called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold an urgent meeting to discuss the Palestinian-Jordanian and French proposals on the establishment of a Palestinian state submitted to the UN Security Council. Netanyahu will be heading to the Italian capital Rome on Monday to meet with Kerry.

(Al-Akhbar)

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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