Popular Protest: Palestinian Leaders’ Greatest Fear?

Both the Palestinian Authority (PA), which rules the West Bank, and Hamas, which rules Gaza, have recently cracked down on journalists, arresting several in recent weeks for criticizing their respective governments; Hamas also incarcerated several activists trying to organize anti-Hamas demonstrations. Khaled Abu Toameh comments:

The latest crackdown on Palestinian journalists [likely] springs from the fear that the current wave of anti-corruption protests sweeping Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, and other Arab countries may spread to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this week, Hamas security forces also arrested one of their own officers, Hussein Qatoush, after he posted a video on Facebook in which he complained about the dire economic situation in the Gaza Strip. In the video, Qatoush said he does not have money to pay for transportation from his home to work. . . . In the eyes of Hamas, . . . it seems that any Palestinian who dares to complain about the bad economy in the Gaza Strip is a “traitor” and a “security threat.”

Hamas’s latest measures are evidently aimed at preventing a repeat of the widespread demonstrations that erupted in the Gaza Strip last March. Organized by social-media activists, the demonstrators protested the high cost of living and new taxes imposed by Hamas and called for solving the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip, including the high rate of unemployment. The protests, which lasted for a few days, were quickly and brutally crushed by Hamas.

Hani al-Masri, a prominent Palestinian political analyst, believes that the current anti-corruption protests sweeping some Arab countries will reach the Palestinian territories. “It is certain that the Arab Spring will arrive, sooner or later, to Palestine,” he said. “The [ruling] Palestinian elite is mostly corrupt and tyrannical [or] incompetent.”

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More about: Arab Spring, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Palestinian Authority

With Talk of Annexation, Benny Gantz Sends a Message to the U.S.

Jan. 24 2020

On Tuesday, the former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, who is campaigning for a third time to oust Benjamin Netanyahu from the Israeli premiership, announced that if elected he will seek to annex the Jordan Valley. He added the important caveat that he wants to do so “in coordination with the international community”—a promise that, as many have pointed out, is nearly impossible to fulfill. While it is easy to speculate about the political calculations behind this pledge, Jonathan Tobin suggests that it is also intended as a message to American liberals:

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More about: Benny Gantz, Democrats, Israeli Election 2020, Jordan Valley, U.S. Politics