Hundreds of demonstrators poured into Ramallah’s Manara Square on Monday to call on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to resign and end security cooperation with Israel.
The protest comes a day after the PA security forces violently cracked down on a demonstration in front of a courthouse in Ramallah against a trial of five Palestinians, who have been charged with possession of illegal weapons. Many Palestinians view the trial as a byproduct of the ongoing security cooperation between Israel and the PA.
“The people want the fall of the president,” the protesters chanted, clapping their hands.
Protests against Palestinian Authority policy sometimes take place in the West Bank, but rarely target the PA president.
“Down with security cooperation… Why is there security cooperation when we are under the bullets of the army?” the protesters continued.
Security cooperation between Israel and the PA, a cornerstone of the Oslo Accords, is ongoing but widely unpopular in Palestinian society. A 2015 poll found that 64% of Palestinians support the discontinuation of security cooperation with Israel.
Abbas instructed PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Monday to form an investigative committee into the PA security forces’ violent crackdown on Sunday’s protest.
“The law is above everyone, including security personnel,” Hamdallah said on Monday.
The Council of Human Rights Organizations, a coalition of Palestinian human rights groups, called on the PA leadership on Monday to hold the perpetrators accountable.
Monday’s protest is third major demonstration against security cooperation in the past week.
The PLO Central Council, the PLO’s acting parliament, made a decision in 2014 to end security cooperation with Israel, but the PA has yet to implement it.
The Palestinian Authority and Israel see security cooperation as a key element to stability in the West Bank. PA officials, however, have said that they can only remain committed to security cooperation insofar as the establishment of a Palestinian state remains a possibility.
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