Thousands rally against PA in Gaza after PaliLeaks

Demonstrations also take place in West Bank organized by Abbas’s Fatah factions; PA requests int'l assistance in investigating who leaked secret documents.

Fatah flags 311 (photo credit: AP)
Fatah flags 311
(photo credit: AP)
Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Thursday to express their support of, and opposition to, the Palestinian Authority leadership following the publication of Al- Jazeera’s “Palestine Papers.”
The demonstrations in the West Bank were organized by Abbas’s Fatah factions, while the Gaza Strip protests were held at the request of Hamas and other Palestinian groups.
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The PA, meanwhile, has requested assistance from the international community in investigating who leaked the secret documents concerning the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to the Qatari news channel.
Most of the pro-Fatah demonstrations took place in Nablus, Jenin and Tulkarem – where Palestinians chanted slogans strongly condemning Al-Jazeera and Qatar.
Mahmoud Shtayyeh, a Fatah leader in Nablus, said the demonstrations showed that many Palestinians were opposed to Al- Jazeera’s “venom and lies.” He accused the popular Arab TV network of being part of an Israeli conspiracy aimed at toppling the PA regime in the West Bank.
The PA governor of the nearby town of Salfit, Issam Abu Baker, said that what Al-Jazeera did was not a journalistic scoop, but a plot designed to help Israel in light of growing international recognition of a Palestinian state.
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Kadoura Musa, the PA governor of Jenin, told demonstrators in his city that Palestinians were witnessing a “new conspiracy” concocted by Al-Jazeera. The Palestinians, he stressed, will continue to rally behind their leadership in the face of the alleged plot.
Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf told the crowd that Al-Jazeera was hoping that Palestinians would turn against the PA leadership following its claims. Instead, the Palestinians took to the streets to voice their support for President Abbas and his leadership, he said.
In Ramallah, Abbas convened the Fatah Central Committee to discuss the Al-Jazeera revelations and its repercussions.
The committee, which is dominated by Abbas loyalists, strongly condemned Al- Jazeera’s “suspicious” campaign to defame the PA leadership.
The committee claimed that the Al-Jazeera documents were forged and designed to help Hamas tighten its grip on the Gaza Strip.
Thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip staged demonstrations against Abbas and the PA leadership, accusing them of betraying the Palestinians.
The demonstrators voiced their support for Al-Jazeera and the emir of Qatar.
Hamas has called for a “day of rage” in the Gaza Strip on Friday. The movement urged Palestinians to demonstrate against the PA following Friday prayers in the mosques.
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar denounced the PA leaders as a “bunch of corrupt beneficiaries and collaborators.” He also called for bringing to trial PA officials suspected of conducting security coordination with Israel – as claimed by Al-Jazeera.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Thursday that he asked the US, Britain and France for help in the PA investigation into the leak.
The PA suspects that citizens of the three countries who had access to the documents in the PLO Negotiations Department were responsible.
The three have been identified as Clayton Swisher, who now works as a reporter for Al- Jazeera; Alastair Crooke, a former senior British intelligence [MI6] and adviser to the EU; and Ziad Kalout, a Palestinian with French citizenship.