Voices from the Arab press: Lessons for Palestinian leadership

A weekly selection of opinions and analyses from the Arab media around the world.

 AERIAL VIEW of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home after FBI agents raided it, in Palm Beach, Florida, August 15. (photo credit: Marco Bello/File/Reuters)
AERIAL VIEW of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home after FBI agents raided it, in Palm Beach, Florida, August 15.
(photo credit: Marco Bello/File/Reuters)

Lessons for Palestinian leadership

An-Nahar, Lebanon, August 20

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At dawn on Thursday, August 18, the Israeli military wasn’t preparing for a military raid against a terror cell, as happened in the past in cities like Jenin and Nablus. Rather, it was a raid against civil and human rights organizations in the heart of Ramallah – groups like Addameer, Al-Haq, the Bisan Research Center and the Defense for Children International – Palestine. There is absolutely no doubt that these organizations were established in accordance with Palestinian law; that is, they are licensed and legitimate organizations that operate within the Palestinian territories and even receive funding from European Union member states

Their headquarters are all located near the office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. They are also just down the street from the headquarters of the Palestinian Security Services, which are supposed to prevent the movement of Israeli military units within the streets of Ramallah or any other Palestinian territory. 

Of course, no one, with the exception of Israel, which is an occupying apartheid state, truly believes that these relief and aid organizations actually pose a serious security threat to anyone. However, the Israeli military knows that many of these groups collect facts on the ground, conduct investigations and write reports that shed light on Israel’s violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. 

It’s clear that, in launching these raids, Israel is continuing its campaign aimed at subjugating the Palestinian people by weakening its civil society. Israel’s actions are also meant to send a clear message to the Palestinian Authority, according to which the Palestinians – despite having a president, a government, a flag, an anthem, embassies and even a security force – are ultimately nothing more than pawns in Israel’s chess game. It is Israel that will ultimately exercise control over all West Bank territory. Any Israeli concessions to the Palestinians will come in the form of economic benefits. In pursuing this strategy, Israel also seeks to expose the fragility of the Palestinian Authority and undermine its role in front of its people. 

 The logo of the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq is seen in its offices in Ramallah, in the West Bank, on November 8, 2021. (credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS) The logo of the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq is seen in its offices in Ramallah, in the West Bank, on November 8, 2021. (credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

What is important now is that this incident, like many other Israeli incursions into Jerusalem, Jenin, Nablus and Hebron, draw attention to an incomprehensible and unacceptable reality that must change. First, the Palestinian Authority must cease to maintain security coordination and economic relations with Israel. Since 2015, Abbas ignored the Palestinian Central Council’s decision to end security coordination with Israel. Moreover, he is not doing anything to strengthen the Palestinian situation.

Today, it seems as if the Palestinian Security Services, which take up about 40% of the PA’s budget, have no real mission other than protecting Abbas’s rule. Second, Israel’s incursions into areas that are under the strict control of the PA, according to the Oslo Accords, must not be a reality that the PA simply comes to accept. The Palestinian leadership must defend the Palestinian people and Palestinian civil society organizations from Israeli attacks within its own sovereign jurisdiction. Third, it’s clear from all of this that the Palestinian leadership continues to submit to Israeli dictates by relinquishing its right to sovereignty.

It hasn’t taken a single initiative to promote Palestinian statehood on the ground. Instead, it has fallen for the delusion that if the United Nations would recognize it as a state, all of its problems will be solved.

Does the PA think that independence will simply be handed to the Palestinian people on a silver platter? Does it truly believe it can stand idly by, treating the events unfolding around it as an observer, without taking any initiative to change the situation? – Majid Kayali 

How does Trump raise millions of dollars as a result of a raid?

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, August 19

In 1976, actor Mohamed Sobhi participated in the TV series Chance of a Lifetime. He played the role of Ali Bey Mazhar, a character who dreams of quickly getting rich in devious and cunning ways. Of course, characters like Mazhar aren’t unique to Chance of a Lifetime; almost every famous television show around the world has some version of this character. And yet I don’t think we met a real-world Ali Bey Mazhar until we met former US president Donald Trump. 

Trump is the ultimate example of someone who can make millions from virtually anything. He makes Ali Bey Mazhar look like an amateur. Trump raised about $1 million a day in political donations after the search of his estate in Mar-a-Lago took place a few weeks back. Who could possibly pull off such a feat but Trump? Who, other than Trump, could turn a legitimate FBI search into an opportunity to make millions of dollars? The former US president did it by sending more than 100 emails to his supporters and asking for money to be donated

Of course, it’s ironic that Trump, whose time in office was characterized by a continuous undermining of democracy, claimed that the raid on his home was unruly and undemocratic. But his supporters didn’t care about the facts; they simply donated their money. Donations increased for several more days and are still above average. It is worth noting that Trump’s Political Action Committee raised about $50m. in a six-month period for the first time since Trump left office, according to data from the Federal Election Commission. 

Indeed, it may be this widespread support that pushes Trump to announce his presidential run in 2024 against Joe Biden. I don’t know what the fate of the donation money would be if Trump decides, for example, to withdraw from the presidential race. 

In fact, it’s hard to know what the fate of the money would be even if he chooses to announce his candidacy. Does he use the money according to the rules and laws governing campaign funding? No one knows. But the idea that a person accused of pushing his supporters to storm the Capitol is managing millions of dollars raised by the public is concerning enough as it is. – Abd Al-Latif Al-Manawi