The Squad slammed PA leader Abbas in their tweets while continuing to claim that Israeli “apartheid” is the reason for the Palestinians’ misery.
By Pesach Benson, United With Israel
Members of The Squad, a group of progressive Democratic lawmakers also known for slamming Israel, publicly criticized the Palestinian Authority’s latest crackdown on dissent.
Over the weekend, PA security arrested 30 Palestinians in Ramallah who were holding a peaceful memorial gathering for Nizar Banat. Banat, a staunch critic of the Palestinian Authority, died in custody shortly after being arrested by PA security forces in June, sparking demonstrations in several Palestinian cities.
The PA said the protesters, who gathered in Ramallah’s Manara Square on Saturday and Sunday, didn’t have a permit for the gathering. Most of the 30 were released on Sunday, but eight remained in detention, including some well-known anti-corruption activists, prompting the Squad’s scrutiny.
According to Haaretz, the eight Palestinians were freed on Tuesday “soon after Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt) reached out to multiple PA contacts to raise the issue.”
As Sanders worked the phones, other Democratic lawmakers belonging to the Squad, including Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn), took to Twitter on Monday in a rare slamming of the PA.
Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, tweeted, “Dear President Mahmoud Abbas, This is NOT how you protect and serve the Palestinian people. Shame on you for suppressing Palestinian voices who are trying to seek liberation from not only the Israeli apartheid government, but from your corrupt leadership.”
Missouri Representative Cori Bush’s tweet implicated Israel. “Suppressing dissent and criminalizing protest only deepens the violence of Israel’s apartheid system. We stand with Palestinians against the violence of the Palestinian Authority’s authoritarianism. Freedom for political prisoners now,” she posted.
Omar tweeted, “Locking up peaceful protesters is a textbook human rights abuse and the hallmark of authoritarian regimes. I urge the Palestinian Authority to release these political prisoners and conduct a thorough transparent investigation into Nizar Banat’s killing.”
Other Capitol Hill lawmakers calling out the PA were Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
Banat, who lived in the Hebron area, had been arrested a number of times for Facebook posts and podcasts denouncing corruption and ineptitude in the PA government and the ruling Fatah party, especially on fighting the COVID pandemic. Banat also criticized the PA’s cooperation with Israel.
Banat’s family says the PA is covering up his death. The PA says it is still investigating what happened.
In the days after Banat’s funeral, anti-government protests broke out in Ramallah and other Palestinian cities calling for PA President Mahmoud Abbas to resign. PA security forces were accused of using excessive force against protesters.
Abbas, who is now in the 17th year of a four-year presidential term, is deeply unpopular among the Palestinians. Because of the Fatah-Hamas rivalry, the Palestinians haven’t held a national election since 2006. Abbas called off a national election scheduled for May 22 when it became clear Fatah would be badly trounced. He also blamed Israel for cancelling the election, a claim that few Palestinians accept.
With no succession plan in place for the Palestinian leadership, the health of the 85-year-old President is also the subject of frequent rumors and speculation.
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