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What will Fatah do with the money?

Donors have agreed to support Mahmoud Abbas‘ Fatah government by giving millions. But reports suggest the money will not be spent wisely, but for torture troops.

Sadly, the fight continues – internally. (via michaelramallah, Flickr)

Last week, donors from over 40 countries agreed to support the Palestine Authority’s justice system by pledging 155m Euros. A huge chunk of the money will be used to boost security in the West Bank (Hamas-ruled Gaza will not get any support). „Security is the most important service any government should provide its citizens,“ the head of the Palestinian delegation, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told reporters.

Who does not want to see stability and a self-dependent security system in the Palestine territories? It would be the first step to an eye-to-eye relationship with Israel, a premise for autonomy. But things are not that simple: Though civil police is said to act rather lawful now, an upcoming report from Human Rights Watch sharply criticises Hamas and Fatah security forces. In the West Bank, it claims, masked and unidentified security personel has carried out numerous arrests without any warrant. The families of those detained do not get any confirmation about their whereabouts, there are serious reports about torture (“shabah” in Arabic) via mock executions, severe beatings and the use of “stress positions“. Out of Gaza, similar stories are emerging.

The goal is clear: The proxy-war between Fatah and Hamas is leading them to oust “suspicious elements“ so they can keep control of their respective territories. “They are prisoners. We do not give them chocolate and roses,” Akram Rajoub, head of preventive security in Nablus, told the Times: “But I can assure you that we don’t use torture methods or shabah methods”, he added.

With the internal dispute, any money given could be misused. The donors should check up on these claims, but the media should check up on the role of the donors as well: Talks about the United States training and equipping secret police forces do not sound completely unrealistic, given the alleged American meddling with the Palestinian situation under General Keith Dayton in 2007 (last time, it resulted in the Hamas takeover in a pre-emptive coup). The power in Palestine is hard-fought, and it would not be the first time celebrated Western donations are used for a hidden, a cold or a even a hot war afterwards. With the situation strained in Gaza as well as inside the Fatah-party, caution and diplomatic solutions (like negotiating preconditions to bring Hamas to the table) should have priority over money-symbolism.

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