by Hisham Jarallah
Fayyad often comes across in the international community as a "moderate" man who believes in peace and coexistence with Israel; but his actions reveal that the Palestinian prime minister is anything but liberal or moderate.
The Salam Fayyad government has just punished a school principal for allowing his pupils to dance with Israelis during a trip to the beach in Jaffa.
Because of his "crime," Mohammed Abu Samra, principle of the Al-Slama [peace] Secondary School in the West Bank city of Kalkilya, was reassigned to a remote school.
Fayyad's ministry of education decided on the move after the principle organized a picnic for 45 Palestinian pupils to the beach. "My pupils were attracted to the music and I could not say no to them," Abu Samra told the Gulf News newspaper. "My pupils started dancing and I also joined them." He said that at one point some Israeli men and women joined the dance.
It is hard to imagine, however, that the measure against the school principle was taken without Fayyad's knowledge or approval.
This is the same government that continues to combat all forms of "normalization" with Israel. Many Palestinian groups and political factions in the West Bank have banned their members from participating in meetings with Israelis and the Fayyad government seems to have endorsed this policy.
The most recent "anti-normalization" decision was taken by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, which operates under the jurisdiction of the Fayyad government in the West Bank. The syndicate issued a warning to all its members against holding any form of contact with their Israeli counterparts, and threatened punitive measures against those who violate the ban.
The Fayyad government has also banned Palestinians from dealing directly with Israeli "liaison" offices in the West Bank. These offices, belonging to the Israeli Civil Administration, were created, among other reasons, to assist Palestinians in obtaining permits to work and receive medical treatment in Israel.
Fayyad was one of the first Palestinian officials to lead a campaign to boycott products of Israeli settlements. His office even invited journalists to cover an event where Fayyad personally set fire to settler products that were confiscated by his police forces in the West Bank.
The Fayyad government is also responsible for the continued crackdown on Palestinian journalists and bloggers in the West Bank. In recent weeks, more than 15 journalists and bloggers were imprisoned or summoned for interrogation for exposing corruption scandals or posting critical comments on Facebook. The crackdown was ordered by Fayyad's attorney-general, Ahmed al-Mughni.
Fayyad's TV and radio stations in Ramallah continue to glorify terrorists and suicide bombers, referring to them as heroes and martyrs and dedicating songs and poems in their honor.
In addition, the Fayyad government continues to hold dozens of Palestinians in prison without detention and is refusing to carry out court orders to release some of the detainees. As one PLO official said, "The judiciary system in Palestine has become a joke under Salam Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas."
Fayyad supporters have defended him by blaming Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction for human rights violations and the clampdown on journalists and bloggers. They claim that Fayyad has no real powers over the various security forces or the Palestinian Authority media. Nor, they say, does Fayyad have control over the decisions of the attorney-general.
So if Fayyad is not responsible for anything that goes wrong in the Palestinian Authority, why hasn't he, for example spoken out against the violations perpetrated by Abbas and his lieutenants? Or, if he is opposed to the arrest of journalists and the closure of news websites, why hasn't he resigned?
Fayyad often comes across in the international community as a "moderate" man who believes in peace and coexistence with Israel; but his actions in the past few years reveal that the Palestinian prime minister is anything but liberal or moderate, even if he did receive a doctorate at the University of Texas.
By punishing the school principle for allowing his pupils to dance with Israelis on the beach, Fayyad's government is telling Palestinians that their children must not have any contact with Israelis, even if it is intended for entertainment.
If Fayyad does not want Palestinian children to mix with Israelis, why does he continue to live in an Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem that is under Israeli sovereignty? And why does he continue to meet with Israelis on different occasions? If, as his aides say, he despises Mahmoud Abbas and believes that he is leading the Palestinians toward the abyss, why doesn't he tell this to the president in his face? Or is it possible that Fayyad and Abbas are playing the good cop and bad cop?Hisham Jarallah
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