Opinion

Complicity and Accountability in Banat’s Killing

Banat's dissent threatened what remains of the PA's repressive power. Without security coordination, the PA risks political dissolution and accountability.

In the international community’s narrative of illusory state-building in Palestine, the Palestinian Authority’s security services are dissociated from violence.

Whether such violence is meted out according to PA Leader Mahmoud Abbas’s directives, or in terms of security coordination with Israel, the EU and the US prefer to retain a distant approach and one that is deeply rooted in the dynamics of the two-state paradigm. Never mind that the EU and the US are directly funding and training the PA’s security services to turn against Palestinian civilians.

The killing of Nizar Banat at the hands of the PA’s security services last week ignited protests across the occupied West Bank.

Simmering beneath the immediate protests is the Palestinian people’s awareness of security coordination with Israel, treacherous collaboration with Israel’s colonial violence that has targeted Palestinians with dissenting voices or involved in resistance activities.

At a time when Abbas is descending into a chaos of his own making, notably his refusal to hold democratic elections, Palestinians are protesting against the intricate web of violence which has so far sustained his “authority”.

US State Department Spokesman Ned Price’s statement is indicative of how Washington absolves itself of any role in creating the PA’s security services and their violence. “We have serious concerns about Palestinian Authority restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression by Palestinians and harassment of civil society activists and organisations,” said Price. Anyone else for dodgeball?

However, the US exhibits no concern whatsoever that it trains the PA’s security services to commit acts which lead to the murder of Palestinian civilians. Once again, Palestinian lives are expendable in view of the international commitment, to which the US is bound by consensus, to keeping the Palestinian people tethered to the two-state compromise, and protecting the occupation, apartheid state.

The EU’s statement recognised the PA’s “increasingly persistence practice” of targeting its opponents, yet it hesitated to describe Banat’s death as politically motivated. “Apparently” allows the PA to remain on the EU’s agenda, for no other reason than the two-state compromise and the humanitarian agenda forced upon the Palestinian people. In this context, how can the EU’s calls for there to be accountability for Banat’s killing have any meaning?

If scrutiny is projected onto the donors, namely the EU and the US, an additional process of accountability must be taken into consideration; one that calls into question the Oslo Accords, the two-state compromise, and the international oppression which forced Palestinians to bend under PA rule.

In November 2020, Banat was arrested for a video denouncing the PA’s resumption of security coordination with Israel, a betrayal by the PA at the news that Joe Biden had won the US presidential election. Security coordination, therefore, is the main issue. Banat’s dissent threatened what remains of the PA’s repressive power. Without security coordination, the PA risks political dissolution and accountability.

These are two truths that it tries to stave off, even as Palestinians are clearly more emboldened in their protests and less willing to fit within the parameters imposed by the international community in its quest to legitimise Abbas, despite the clear illegitimacy of his political position and absence of a mandate to govern.

Ramona Wadi
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Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger. Her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America.

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