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The Two Authorities of Repression
By: Mohammad Al-Sahli
June 25, 2018

The streets of Ramallah seemed to echo Saraya Square in Gaza, and the opposite seemed true. The division that has sunk the two sides of the Palestinian situation with its disastrous consequences has not seems to affect their agreement on the need to oppress the people and "discipline" it.

What the security services and their political authority, in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, estimate is the law's roof and its actual meaning. Therefore, obtaining a license for a peaceful demonstration is impossible, not because the decision-makers do not want to disturb the happiness that the people "enjoy" during the Eid. But because they know what the demonstrators would like to say. This disturbs them, themselves.

But what worries them is that the decisions of the institutions and the comprehensive national dialogues turn into loud throats in the street demanding their implementation, and the abolition of the narrow factional policies that the division parties have hidden behind them.

The repression against demonstrators in Ramallah and Gaza has not happened for the first time. But it occurs in very sensitive conditions, from different aspects:

As in the Gaza Strip, the return marches, the crimes of the occupation and the international reactions in favor of protecting the Palestinian people have been a qualitative turning point, and their continuation has fueled Tel Aviv's concerns about what is to come. Besides (and this is important), the marches came under complicated conditions in the Gaza Strip because of the siege and the PA's sanctions. Thus, its crises have been exacerbated, raising the level of congestion to the brink of explosion. While many have bet on the explosion inside the Palestinian situation and its repercussions, it has exploded in the face of the occupation. From here, lies the seriousness of what has happened in Gaza - the attack on the demonstrators - and the justified fear of its development towards escalation.

The return marches have embodied the unity of the popular and political field action in the face of the occupation, and the formation of the National Committee, which directs the events of these marches, has constituted a remarkable development in the internal relations between the components of the political situation and the national and social activities in the Strip. This has been reflected positively on the continuation of the marches and their momentum. Therefore, it is natural that the reactions to the attacks by the "Hamas" security services on the demonstrators will certainly begin to protect the unified action towards the return marches from the consequences, without neglecting the condemnation and demanding accountability of the perpetrators.

The second important issue is that the attack was carried out against participants in a march calling for ending the division and lifting the sanctions imposed by the PA on the Gaza Strip. So, whoever attacked the demonstrators and who drove them to do so, opens the door to suspicion that the Hamas movement is using this to strengthen its power over the Strip, as the "patriots to end the division" movement said in its condemnation of the attack. The most serious thing is that what has happened could lead to the reluctance of a wide range of national activities to participate in the insistent popular effort to achieve the lifting of sanctions.

In any case, Hamas is a "founding" party of division, and it is natural to be provoked by slogans that call for its reasons to be removed, unless it is convinced and has a political will to work seriously to end the division. But what has happened is another sign.

In the West Bank, this year saw unprecedented extremism in the Israeli expansion in light of the encouragement of the Trump administration of the settlements and the Judaization campaigns have become more ferocious after this administration's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the occupying state. This situation imposes Palestinian entitlements that cannot be procrastinated or stalled, which were expressed clearly by the decisions of the Central and National Councils. But the official Palestinian leadership has no intention to implement. Therefore, it was provoked by the popular movement that demanded the implementation of these decisions, including the lifting of sanctions on the Gaza Strip.

The official leadership was used to be "free" during the period between the two sessions of the Central Council and in the long term between a national council and another. And (reluctantly) it was tolerating the passing of decisions that they did not like, in the national coalition institutions, armed with its ability to disrupt implementation. But as the echo of these decisions has been heard and viewed in the streets and before the headquarters of the province, then this is something else. The leadership also is aware that the popular move is likely to increase. Therefore, it has ordered that it must be suppressed, stopped at this level and not repeated.

As the attack on demonstrators in Ramallah has been considered as a violation of the law and abuse of the dignity of the citizen and its freedom of expression, it also has been seen as hiding behind the policies that have exacerbated the division and contributed to prolong it.

The most important thing that the Palestinian official leadership fears is that the popular effort to turn into a motive for pressure to impose the implementation of the decisions of the Central and National Councils, with all the entitlements at the internal national level and in the relationship with the occupation in terms of withdrawing recognition of Israel , halting the security coordination with it, disengaging from Oslo and their political, economic and security constraints and turning to a new policy committed to the joint national action according to the Palestinian liberation program.

The Hamas authority in Gaza is concerned about any popular movement that is pushing for the implementation of national consensus decisions because this is outside the context of its calculations of interests, as it sees the bilateral deals with Fatah as an appropriate bazaar for achieving the sharing of power and influence between the two parties. Therefore, the better the atmosphere between them, the more they hold bilateral meetings , present each other's sources of strength in front of the other and deal with the components of national dialogues as a mere witness.

As a result, the two sides agree on many issues, most notably the exploitative approach of the "public", the institutions, the national frameworks and the joint action. And if any of the above mentioned take contradictory step in their movement or decisions against the interests of each of them, in some cases they will be exposed to marginalization or repression when the two parties feel that things are out of control. They differ in many cases and accounts, but they agree that they are manifestly two oppressive authorities.

Notes:Mohammad Al-Sahli is Editor in Chief of Al-Hourriah newspaper, the official speaker of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by Ibrahim Motlaq

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