A woman and a wounded protester fall on the ground as members of Palestinian security forces disperse a Hamas demonstration in the Palestinian Authority controlled side of Hebron, December 14, 2018.
(photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA / REUTERS)
A former Palestinian Authority minister has drawn strong condemnation from Palestinians for admitting that the PA conducts security coordination with Israel.
Ashraf Ajrami, who served as PA Minister for Prisoners Affairs between 2007 and 2009, said in an interview with i24 News that the Palestinians have “contributed to Israel’s security more than Israel contributed to the security of the Palestinians.”
Defending security coordination between the PA and Israel in the West Bank, Ajrami said: “This is not treason. There’s a basic Palestinian interest in maintaining security and stability in the Palestinian Authority so that the Palestinians would be able to build their economy.”
Following the interview, many Palestinians took to social media to voice their condemnation of Ajrami and called for his punishment.
The PA leadership has long been facing sharp criticism from many Palestinians for its policy of conducting security coordination. PLO and Fatah institutions have advised that the PA suspend security coordination with Israel, while many Palestinians view it as a form of treason and collaboration.
In 2014, PA President Mahmoud Abbas was strongly criticized by Palestinians for stating that security coordination with Israel was “sacred.” Abbas’s statement came during a meeting in Ramallah with Israeli peace activists.
Ajrami has previously been accused by Palestinians of promoting normalization with Israel because of his recurrent meetings with Israelis. He is also a member of the Palestinian committee for “interaction with Israeli society,” a body that regularly organizes visits by Israelis to Ramallah for meetings with Israeli officials.
Two Palestinian lawyers, Ghandi Amin and Taghreed Khalaf, said they filed a complaint against Ajrami with the PA public prosecutor. They accused the former PA minister of “insulting the national feelings of the Palestinian people and boasting of protecting [Israel’s] security.”
In their complaint, the lawyers said that “since the occupation state – according to the [Palestinian] law and international law – occupies Palestinian lands, and whoever contributes to the protection of the occupation and assists it in its occupation is considered a criminal in the eyes of the national and international law, and since he made his dangerous statement without any deterrent or legal responsibility, we call for launching an investigation against him.”
Fatah was quick to distance itself from Ajrami. In a statement, it said that he was never a member or leader of the ruling faction in the West Bank.
“He alone bears responsibility for his shameful statements,” Fatah said in response to claims that the former PA minister is one of its senior officials. “Those who are claiming that he’s a senior leader of Fatah should be ashamed of themselves because this is an intentional abuse of Fatah and its history and struggle.”