by Khaled Abu Toameh
If the Palestinian leaders do not want their citizens to seek medical aid in Israel, why don't they and their family members also boycott Israeli hospitals? Why do Palestinian leaders keep knocking on Israel's door for help in various fields?
On the same day that two Palestinian officials met in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Palestinian Authority issued an order banning Palestinians from making direct contact with Israeli authorities in the West Bank.
The new order is yet another sign of how the Palestinian Authority is radicalizing Palestinians and eventually dragging them toward another confrontation with Israel.
The ban, which was issued by the Palestinian governor of Bethlehem, prohibits Palestinians from directly seeking the services of the Israeli District Coordination Committee [DCO].
Established under the terms of the Oslo Accords, the DCO's main mission is to provide various services to Palestinians, especially those who seek to enter Israel for medical treatment and work. Over the past two decades, tens of thousands of Palestinians have sought the services of the DCO also to facilitate travel arrangements and overcome bureaucratic hurdles.
But now the Palestinian Authority government has decided to put an end to this phenomenon. Palestinians have warned that anyone who violates the latest ban would be punished.
The ban will only increase bitterness and suffering among Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority is hoping that the anger on the Palestinian street will ultimately be directed against Israel.
The new order is the latest in a series of decisions that raise tensions between Israel and the Palestinians and go against the spirit of the peace process.
Last week, the Palestinian government issued another order banning Israeli -- not only settler -- agricultural products from some areas in the West Bank.
The Palestinian Authority has also banned meetings between Israelis and Palestinians that allegedly promote "normalization" between the two sides.
Moreover, Palestinians have been banned from working in settlements in the West Bank or selling goods manufactured in some of these settlements. But because the Palestinian government has not been able to come up with a plan to compensate tens of thousands of workers for the loss of their jobs in the settlements, many of them have chosen to simply ignore the ban, putting their lives at risk.
If anything, all these new measures reflect the Palestinian Authority's double standards in dealing with its own population.
How can the Palestinian government call for a boycott of Israel when its political and security representatives are holding formal and informal meetings with Israelis almost on a daily basis?
If the leaders of the Palestinian Authority do not want Palestinians to seek the services of the Israeli authorities, why don't they then return their Israeli-issued VIP cards that grant them privileges denied to most Palestinians?
If Palestinian leaders do not want their citizens to seek medical aid in Israel, why don't they and their family members also boycott Israeli hospitals? Why do senior Palestinian leaders keep knocking on Israel's door for help in various fields?
If the Palestinian government does not want Palestinians to work in the settlements, why hasn't it provided them with alternative jobs or financial compensation?Khaled Abu Toameh
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