By KHALED ABU TOAMEH, GATESTONE—
European parliaments that are rushing to recognize a Palestinian state are ignoring the fact that the Palestinians have been without a functioning parliament for the past seven years.
The Palestinian parliament, known as the Palestinian Legislative Council [PLC], has been paralyzed since 2007, when Hamas violently seized control over the Gaza Strip and expelled the Palestinian Authority [PA].
These European parliaments are also turning a blind eye to the fact that, under the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, there is no respect for the rule of law, free speech, transparency or accountability.
This week, the European Parliament also adopted a resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood in principle. A total of 489 MEP’s voted in favor, while 88 were against.
Ironically, the EU Parliament vote coincided with an unprecedented crackdown by the Palestinian Authority leadership on the Palestinian Legislative Council and its secretary-general, Ibrahim Khraisheh, in Ramallah.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the arrest of Khraisheh for allegedly criticizing PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Following strong protests by leaders of various Palestinian factions, who described the decision as a flagrant breach of freedom of expression, Abbas was forced to backtrack.
But for Abbas, this was not the end of the story. After canceling the arrest order against Khraisheh, Abbas dispatched policemen to the parliament building in Ramallah to prevent the top official from entering the compound. The presence of the policemen at the main entrance to the parliament building drew sharp denunciations from many Palestinians.
Khraisheh was removed from his job because he dared to criticize the Palestinian government for arresting Bassam Zakarneh, head of the public employees’ union in the West Bank. Many Palestinians have also denounced the arrest of Zakarneh as an assault on workers’ rights and an attempt to intimidate them.
But the EU Parliament and other parliaments that voted in favor of recognizing Palestinian statehood did not see a need to comment on Abbas’s measures against the PLC and one of its senior officials.
EU parliamentarians who voted in favor of Palestinian statehood are most likely unaware of what the former PA Justice Minister, Freih Abu Medein, had to say about the rule of law and order in the Palestinian Authority.
Abu Medein drew a bleak picture of what the future Palestinian state would look like. In a damning article he published last week, Abu Medein wrote: “The situation in Palestine does not conform at all with democracy or the rule of law, because the Palestinian mentality is too coarse to cope with transparency of the law and its regulators and provisions.”
Abu Medein’s scathing attack, which is directed first and foremost against Abbas, ended with an appeal to Palestinians to “wake up and see the loss of law, rights and security” in the areas controlled by the PA and Hamas.
The former Palestinian Authority justice minister is not the only prominent Palestinian who seems to understand that a Palestinian state under the current circumstances would be anything but democratic.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, the secretary-general of the PLO who until recently was considered one of Abbas’s top confidants, was quoted last week as strongly condemning the Palestinian Authority president’s “dictatorial” rule.
Referring to Abbas by his nom de guerre, Abed Rabbo said: “Abu Mazen wants to concentrate all authorities in his hands and the hands of his loyalists. He’s acting in a dictatorial way and wants to be in control of everything, especially the finances. I don’t know what this man wants and why he’s behaving in this way. What will happen after Abu Mazen’s departure?”
The parliament members of Sweden, Britain, France and Portugal who voted in favor of recognizing Palestinian statehood do not seem to care about their Palestinian colleagues, who have been deprived of carrying out their parliamentary obligations as a result of the power struggle between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah faction.
Nor do they seem to care if the Palestinian state would be another corrupt dictatorship where there is no room for the rule of law, transparency or freedom of speech.
Obviously, Western parliamentarians see no wrongdoing or evil in the actions of the Palestinian leadership and Hamas. They are prepared to vote in favor of a Palestinian state even if it does not appear to be headed toward democracy and transparency.
These Western parliamentarians are in fact acting against the interests of the Palestinians, who are clearly not hoping for another corrupt dictatorship in the Arab world. By turning a blind eye to human rights violations, as well as assaults on freedom of expression, the judiciary and the parliamentary system in the Palestinian territories, Western parliaments are paving the way for the creation of a rogue state called Palestine.