Palestinian Lawyers Protest


In 2018, we had the opportunity to visit Ramallah with our German friend, former journalist, Johannes Gerloff.  We had just visited Yasser Arafat’s tomb and were returning to our car when we encountered a rather irate Palestinian lawyer. He was happy to engage with us and what he shared was revealing. He consented to our conversation being filmed – watch on our website.

The Palestinian lawyer expressed frustration that he wasn’t able to get any official to take seriously his case which involved a 12 year old child who had been physically assaulted by a school teacher. He was fobbed off from one government department to another. Apparently, no-one showed any interest in human rights abuses within Palestinian society unless Israel could be blamed.

The lawyer affirmed that there were many good Palestinians who believe in peace, justice and a civilized society, but that the Arab world from Morocco to the Gulf was ruled by “gangs” – the leaders and the government. These leaders, he complained, were corrupt and crushed the people. They have projects all around the world, fancy apartments and children in schools in Switzerland, but they don’t care about the Palestinian people. This gentleman spoke of wanting to bring his children up well so that they don’t become terrorists, but there were no jobs and justice was not available for everyday citizens. He bemoaned the fact that little had changed in 50 years, except that the situation was becoming worse.

Given this background, it was heartening to learn that during July hundreds of Palestinian lawyers marched in Ramallah to protest against the practice of establishing laws by decree by the Palestinian Authority. The lawyers’ central demand was the cancellation of 400 decisions they say have been taken illegally by the 87-year-old Abbas in the absence of a Palestinian parliament.

The Palestinian elected law-making body for the West Bank and Gaza, the Legislative Council, has been inactive since 2007. The council’s sessions were suspended following the Palestinian political division between Fatah and Hamas. Since then, the law-making process in Palestine has been by presidential decree, often after suggestions from the government.

Palestinians were scheduled to elect a new legislative council in May 2021 but elections were called off and “postponed” by the Palestinian president one month before the due date.

Following the recent 3 day Gaza conflict, Senior Fellow Danielle Pletka made these comments on the state of play for Palestinians:

‘The fate of “Palestine” is in the hands of the most extreme elements in Palestinian politics. Fatah, the party of Palestinian president-for-life Mahmoud Abbas, has hewn the middle road—some terrorism, some extremism, some corruption, some cooperation with Israel, lots of grandstanding, not much governance. Hamas, the terror group that controls the Gaza Strip, has been hard put to govern; its popularity has shrunk as the group has failed to deliver any tangible improvements. Hamas blames the Jews; Hamas’ subjects are quietly unsure whether the Jews are to blame, or just Hamas. They don’t dare say so. Terrorism is what Hamas is good at, but it has been outbid by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. PIJ has been behind a continual stream of killings in recent years, and its sponsors in Iran have been pleased. As a result, the Israeli government decided to take out PIJ’s top two leaders. Short war, several dozen deaths in Gaza, end of war.’

Given this dire outlook, it is heartening to see Palestinians rising up against the corruption of their leaders. We would hope that the Palestinians’ Western supporters would wise up and realise that the Israel blame game is not going to achieve peace, prosperity or justice for Palestinians. Only when Palestinian leaders have sufficient incentive to change their corrupt self-serving ways will there be hope of a better future. We stand with all those brave Palestinians who are fighting for a better future for their children.

Dr Sheree Trotter