For Palestinian activists fighting corruption, Trump’s attacks are making their work even harder

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with US President Donald Trump, during the UN General Assembly in New York, 2017. AFP
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with US President Donald Trump, during the UN General Assembly in New York, 2017.  (photo: AFP)
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, accountability is an uphill battle in the absence of basic laws and a working parliament.
By Miriam Berger | The National | June 17, 2019

‘Getting rid of corruption shortens the occupation and adds to the confidence of the people in the struggle for liberation and independence against the occupation,’
— Shawqi Al Issa, a former Palestinian minister who resigned over corruption

Earlier this month, cash-strapped Palestinians learned that their president Mahmoud Abbas had secretly approved a massive pay hike for ministers – finding out only because an anti-corruption collective leaked documents showing it online.

Indeed, both the Palestinian public and the Trump administration rate corruption in the Palestinian government as a top concern.

But when American officials and their allies attack the financially-strapped Palestinian Authority as untrustworthy in a push to delegitimise it, this all out assault on Palestinian sovereignty actually makes it harder for those working for more transparency and democratic reforms from within

“The people are ready to move to the streets [in protest against corruption] but we don’t want to go to the streets because of the situation,” said Sohaib Zahda, an activist from Hebron. “Because of the Trump deal and because of the PA’s financial status… We don’t want the USA and Israel to exploit this movement.”

The space for criticism consequently tightens when Palestinians feel that opponents of Palestinian self-determination take their critiques – intended to advance the end goal of independence – as evidence against it.

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