Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are accusing one another of making politically-motivated arrests, with the Gaza-Basked terrorist group alleging on Sunday that four of its members are undergoing “extreme torture” at the hands of the PA in the West Bank.
The charge comes days after Fatah, the main political party in the PA, denounced Hamas for sentencing eight members of its security forces to prison “on the basis of false and absurd claims.”
Veteran Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh reported Monday that the accusations expose an underlying problem with Palestinian leadership: “both Hamas and the PA, according to testimonies and reports, are practicing torture in their prisons. Neither cares a fig for the rights of detainees and prisoners, and both scoff at the values of international human rights.”
On one hand, Hamas “is an extremist Islamist movement that does not consider itself obliged to abide by international laws and treaties concerning basic human rights,” Abu Toameh wrote. However, the PA also ignores these rights despite seeking international approval for statehood.
Foreign governments should “hold the PA accountable for human rights violations and demand transparency and accountability,” Abu Toameh insisted. They have leverage to do so as the PA “is asking to become part of the international community by winning recognition for a Palestinian state.”
By failing to hold the PA accountable for its systemic violations of human rights, the international community “aids and abets the emergence of yet another Arab dictatorship in the Middle East,” Abu Toameh added.
The renewed rift between the two major Palestinian political parties comes one week after they announced in Russia that they had agreed to form a national unity government.
“This ruling shows just how far apart the two major Palestinian parties are from reconciliation,” Grant Rumley, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. “Both sides are ultimately beholden to the more hardline factions within their parties, and in this current climate those factions view the rivalry with the other party as ongoing and zero sum.”
This echoed an observation made by Jonathan Schanzer, the think tank’s vice president for research, who argued in Politico on Tuesday that “[solving] the Palestinian internecine conflict” was a prerequisite for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. In addition to reconciling with Fatah, Schanzer wrote, Hamas needs to “disarm, relinquish its control of the Gaza Strip and allow for a single Palestinian Authority government to rule.”
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