When President-for-Life Mahmoud Abbas finds out that some Palestinians are not pleased with his rule, and support his archrival Mahmoud Dahlan, a former Fatah official now in exile in the U.A.E., he knows just what to do: he cuts their salaries so they and their families have nothing to live on. This practice, and those who are fighting back, is reported on by the always astute Khaled Abu Toameh here:
In an unprecedented move, dozens of Palestinian Authority employees are threatening to call on the European Union and other international parties to halt financial aid to the PA government.
The employees claim that the PA illegally suspended their salaries because of their political affiliations.
Palestinian sources said that the decision to suspend the salaries of the employees was taken because of their affiliation with deposed Fatah operative Mohammed Dahlan, an archrival of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and other Palestinian opposition groups.
Dahlan, who is based in the United Arab Emirates, was expelled from the Palestinian ruling Fatah faction after a falling out with Abbas nearly 10 years ago. Since then, the PA has been launching a crackdown against Dahlan supporters in the West Bank on the pretext that they are working to undermine the PA leadership.
Of course the Dahlan supporters are working to undermine the PA leadership. So what? That is their right. They are disgusted with the massive corruption, the theft of aid money by Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies. But political opposition is an insufficient reason, in a state that pretends to respect the rule of law, for arresting and imprisoning these Dahlan supporters or — the latest arrow in the PA’s quiver — denying them their salaries. They do not advocate violent overthrow of the PA leaders, but they do want free elections – there haven’t been any since the President-for-Life Mahmoud Abbas was elected to a four-year term in 2005, and found the job so much to his liking that he simply stayed on. And life has been good to the rais in Ramallah: he lives in a $13 million palace; he has waiting for him on the tarmac a $75 million private plane. With his sons Yasser and Tareq, he has amassed a family fortune of $400 million. No wonder he is not eager to submit his rule to the judgment of voters, who just might be enraged enough to vote him out and put in his place his arch-enemy Dahlan, who – Abbas naturally fears – might claw back for the PA some of the hundreds of millions of dollars that Abbas has managed to squirrel away. He might even — horribile dictu — put Abbas on trial for corruption.
Sevag Torossian, a Paris-based lawyer representing 165 civilian and security employees of the PA, said that the salaries of his clients have been illegally suspended by the PA finance minister.
On Monday, Torossian sent a letter to Nataliya Apostolova, head of the European Union Police and Rule of Law Mission for the Palestinian Territory (EUPOL COPPS), informing her that he has been “mandated to refer and submit the issue of the employees to all European and international institutions empowered to stop the financial aid to the Palestinian authorities if the issue is not solved by the end of this year.”…
“Torossian pointed out that the Palestinian High Court of Justice stated in 17 different judgements issued from 2018 to 2020 that the salaries of employees and public service personnel could not be suspended by such illegal decisions.
“The High Court concluded each time that the salaries were basic rights of the employees and that their suspension was in violation of the law,” the lawyer said. “However, the Palestinian authorities have never implemented those judicial decisions which they are obligated to.”…
Torossian thinks the EU has a duty to force the PA to respect the rule of law, which of course includes enforcing the decisions of its own Supreme Court. The PA has so far shown no sign of doing so: the law is whatever Mahmoud Abbas says it is. None of the suspended salaries have yet been reinstated. But now comes the only kind of threat that could make an impression on the President-for-Life: the threat to cut EU financial aid to the PA that was intended to help build a “State of Law.” Since the PA shows no signs of respecting such a “State of Law,” the conclusion reached by Torossian – who represents 165 PA employees, civilian and security, whose salaries were suspended — is that such financial aid is being wasted and ought to be “called into question,” i.e., cut.
Here is the case of Sufian Abu Zaida, a representative victim of salary suspension by the PA:
Sufian Abu Zaida, a veteran Fatah official from the Gaza Strip who is closely associated with Dahlan, complained earlier this year that the PA Finance Ministry was refusing to implement a court order to rescind the suspension of his salary.
So not only was this Dahlan supporter’s salary suspended to punish him for his political leanings, but when a court ordered him to be paid, the PA Finance Ministry ignored the court’s request. No reason was given, but everyone knew what it was: Dahlan’s supporters do not deserve any financial support from the PA. Who cares what the courts decide? The President-for-Life is the final arbiter of right and wrong.
Recently, Abu Zaida asked the PA prosecutor-general to issue an arrest warrant for the PA finance minister for contempt of the court. “It’s time to resume the struggle against the virus of corruption that is devouring the Palestinian body,” the Fatah official wrote. “In countries that respect themselves and their people and the law, the penalty for refraining from implementing judicial decisions is imprisonment.”
Having first been deprived illegally of his salary, Abu Zaida then found that the court’s judgment on his behalf, ordering the PA Finance Ministry to reinstate his salary, was simply ignored. No reason for ignoring the decision was given. And now, in a triumph of hope over experience, Abu Zaida has asked the PA prosecutor-general to issue an arrest warrant for that same minister of finance for contempt of court – that is, for his refusal to do as the court commanded and pay Abu Zaida his salary. We already know what is going to happen — nothing. But even though nothing will happen to the minister of finance, Abu Zaida’s demand that he be arrested is a huge embarrassment to the PA. Where is its claim to honor the “rule of law” now? When even judgments of its highest court are simply ignored by the PA leaders, all of them cronies handpicked by Mahmoud Abbas, it becomes difficult even for the EU, so solicitous of the PA in any contretemps with Israel, to defend the PA against the claims of ordinary Palestinians who are being punished financially for their political leanings. Those who have been denied their salaries know, and are now prepared to let the rest of the world know, that the PA is nothing but a criminal enterprise masquerading as a legitimate government.
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