Weekend long read

1) Fatah vice-president Mahmoud al Aloul is profiled in a report by Yoni Ben Menachem at the JCPA.

“Mahmoud al-Aloul considers himself the heir to Mahmoud Abbas’ position of chairman of the Palestinian Authority. He is not in favor of dismantling the Palestinian Authority, and he sees its establishment as a national achievement. However, he supports adopting a tough stance against Israel. “The Palestinian Authority must deepen its opposition to the Israeli occupation,” he emphasized.

Meanwhile, despite al-Aloul’s rivalry with Jibril Rajoub, who was appointed secretary-general of the Fatah movement and is essentially the organization’s “number three,” both men are working together against Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, a protégé of Mahmoud Abbas.

And both of them are working against Muhammad Dahlan, who is a shared political rival and is also claiming the crown of the Palestinian Authority.

Although Mahmoud al-Aloul is not considered as a threat to Mahmoud Abbas, he is a man with lots of experience with terrorist activities and assassinations.

According to senior Fatah officials, two years ago al-Aloul tried to assassinate Ghassan al-Shakaa, a member of the PLO executive committee and former mayor of Shechem, who died at the end of January 2018 from a malignant disease.”

2) Also at the JCPA, Pinhas Inbari explains why “The “After Abbas” Issue Intensifies Tensions among Fatah Top Brass“.

“The leaders of the Tanzim are each arming themselves and mustering within their individual areas. Jibril Rajoub is mobilizing the Hebron region, Mahmoud al-Aloul, Abbas’ official deputy, is organizing the Nablus region, and the Tanzim in Jenin have lost interest in the leadership in Ramallah and are effectively creating their own autonomy.

One of the names mentioned as a possible successor is senior security official Majid Faraj, who is responsible for security cooperation with Israel. His candidacy has aroused international support, but internally he is seen as a collaborator. While the internal balance system does not enable any decision to be made, Faraj can still get involved and stage a kind of coup. Standing against him, in all probability, will be Mohammed Dahlan and the residents of the refugee camps. Dahlan has invested a lot in the camps, and previous skirmishes between the official security forces and Dahlan’s “troops” concluded without a clear winner.”

3) A report by NGO Monitor addresses “The Exploitation of Palestinian Women’s Rights NGOs“.

The European Union (EU), United Nations (UN), and various European governments provide funding and legitimacy to a plethora of Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) dedicated specifically to women’s issues such as political, civic, and economic rights, gender-based discrimination and violence, education, support, and women’s healthcare. The number of women’s organizations has steadily risen since the 1960s (see Appendix 1), and today, there are dozens of local Palestinian NGOs meant to serve the needs of women from various sectors of society. […]

However, NGO Monitor research and analysis reveals that many of these organizations utilize their platform on women’s issues to promote politicized narratives that, in contravention to EU policy, are often rejectionist and violent, many times to the detriment of gender equality within Palestinian society. This trend can be largely attributed to a subordination of gender equality and/or female empowerment to Palestinian political agendas. This problematic phenomenon frequently leads to a disproportionate focus on Israel as the cause of gender inequality, while not paying adequate attention to internal, systemic practices within Palestinian society that are discriminatory against women. These include, but are not limited to, a biased legal system, inaccessible political hierarchy, and restrictive cultural traditions.”

4) At the Algemeiner Ben Cohen reports on a story that has not received any BBC coverage to date.

“Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is facing a potential double trial, as the latest twist in the investigation of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires left the legal immunity that she is now entitled to as a member of the Senate looking more vulnerable.

Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio ruled on Monday [March 5th] that Kirchner, ex-foreign minister Héctor Timerman, and ten other close aides will face trial over a 2013 pact with Iran that whitewashed Tehran’s responsibility for the AMIA bombing — one of the worst-ever terrorist atrocities in Latin America, in which 85 people died and hundreds more were wounded.”

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What do BBC audiences know about Abbas’ potential successor?

Back in October 2016 the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell produced an article on the topic of succession within the Palestinian Authority but since then the BBC has failed to report on subsequent related events such as violent clashes between supporters of Abbas and Dahlan, Abbas’ unanimous re-election as head of the Fatah party, the seventh Fatah party congress and the appointment of a new Fatah vice-chair in February 2017.

The Fatah Revolutionary Council recently held a three-day meeting in Ramallah and according to reports, the man appointed vice-chair last year has now been named as Mahmoud Abbas’ successor.

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will be replaced by his deputy, Mahmoud al-Aloul, if he becomes unable to fulfill his duties, Fatah’s Central Committee decided in Ramallah on Saturday.

According to Palestinian media outlets, Fatah’s Central Committee decided that should Abbas, 82, were unable to continue in his role, al-Aloul will be appointed “acting president of Palestine for a period of three months until elections can be held.” […]

“The amendment to Palestinian law on the matter of transferring Abbas’ presidential authorities to his deputy Mahmoud al-Aloul, was made in light of rumors regarding Abba’s failing health,” one council official said.”

So what do BBC audiences know about the man apparently set to replace Mahmoud Abbas? The answer to that question is very little indeed. While BBC audiences saw no reporting on Aloul’s appointment to the position of vice-chair of Fatah in February 2017, in an article published seven months later he was described simply as “Fatah’s deputy leader”. In a BBC report from 2004 Aloul’s name is among those described as “prominent Palestinians” who signed what the BBC portrayed as an “appeal for calm” – even though the text concerned states:

“…we call upon our people, for the sake of our national interest and in order to bring an end to the occupation, to repress their rage and rise once again in a widespread popular intifada…”

A profile of Aloul compiled by the Washington Institute for Near East policy in 2015 includes the following:

“Following the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Mahmoud al-Aloul was arrested by the Israeli army for participating in organized violence against the army. Three years later, the army freed Aloul, deporting him to Jordan. He immediately joined other Fatah members and leaders in Jordan and was appointed to the “Committee for Deportees from the Homeland” and the “Western Sector,” the Fatah wing responsible for organizing militant activities in the Palestinian territories and Israel. However, in 1973, a little more than two years after his arrival, Jordanian authorities banished him and he relocated to Lebanon. There, he engaged more deeply in military activities and the Western Sector, serving as an assistant to Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), a top advisor to Arafat and Fatah military leader, and leading a military brigade in both the Mount Sannine and Mount Lebanon areas in central Lebanon. After Israel occupied southern Lebanon in 1982, he commanded the “special forces” units in Tripoli (Lebanon) and the Beqa Valley responsible for capturing six Israeli soldiers in 1983 and facilitating a major prisoner swap between Israel and the Palestinians.

Shortly after the Palestinian leadership was expelled from Lebanon, Aloul moved to Tunis and remained Wazir’s special assistant but also began forming special forces units in different Arab states. When Wazir was assassinated in 1988, Aloul was promoted to the position of secretary-general of the occupied territories committee. After the Oslo Accords, Israel initially did not allow Aloul to return to the Palestinian territories because of his previous military activities, but did permit him to return in 1995. He was immediately appointed governor of Nablus and served until he was elected to the PLC and appointed labor minister in 2006. He was elected to the Fatah Central Committee in 2009 and currently serves as the commissioner of mobilization and organization.”

Photo credit: PMW. A photograph of Aloul with Arafat posted on Fatah’s Facebook account

As CAMERA’s Sean Durns has noted, the man to whom Aloul was “special assistant” was responsible for the murders of scores of people.

“…Abu Jihad oversaw the assassination of US diplomats in Khartoum, Sudan, in March 1973. Abu Jihad was also responsible for perpetrating and planning numerous terrorist attacks against Israelis, including the 1978 Coastal Road massacre, in which 38 civilians, including 11 children, were murdered.

In addition to his involvement in murdering no less than 124 Israelis, Abu Jihad also served as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Fatah’s liaison with the Soviet Union, the Syrian Baathist party and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

An article published by the FDD after Aloul’s appointment as vice-chair of Fatah notes that:

“Within Fatah’s upper echelons, al-Aloul assumed the portfolio of mobilization and organization within the party, and in that role he has had an active presence. He is frequently spotted leading protests in the West Bank, and in November of last year, he gave a speech where he declared: “When we talk about our enemies, we talk about the [Israeli] occupation and the United States.””

However, given that the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s chronic under-reporting of internal Palestinian affairs persists, audiences remain unaware of the record of the man who could replace Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority at any moment.

Related Articles:

BBC News ignores the story of the new Fatah vice-chair

Airbrushing terror: the BBC on Abu Jihad

 

 

 

BBC News ignores the story of the new Fatah vice-chair

As readers may recall, in October 2016 the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell produced an article on the topic of succession within the Palestinian Authority which was notable for its lack of information concerning internal Fatah rivalries.knell-abbas-art-main

“Knell’s staid portrayal of the issue of who will succeed Mahmoud Abbas in his role as president of the Palestinian Authority (as well as chair of the PLO and head of the Fatah party) is most notable for what is absent from her framing of the story. Given that BBC audiences suffer from a chronic lack of information concerning internal Palestinian affairs, it is of course highly unlikely that they would be able to read between Knell’s lines and fill in the blanks for themselves.”

Since the appearance of that article, the BBC has failed to produce any follow-up English language reporting on subsequent related events – including violent clashes between supporters of Abbas and Dahlan, Abbas’ unanimous re-election as head of the Fatah party or the seventh Fatah party congress.

In her October report Knell named several potential successors to Abbas.

“For Palestinians, the most popular of the [Fatah Central] committee’s 20 members is Marwan Barghouti, who led Fatah’s Tanzim militant group during the last uprising against the occupation, or intifada.

Although he is in jail in Israel, serving five life terms for involvement in murdering Israelis, he remains influential and has led efforts to end divisions with Hamas.”

She also mentioned “[t]hree other potentially important players”: Mohammed Dahlan, Jibril Rajoub and Majed Faraj.

The fact that the BBC chose not to cover the seventh Fatah party congress in December means that audiences remain unaware of the fact that Barghouti received the most votes in the election to the Central Council of the faction which dominates the Palestinian Authority as well as the PLO (the body supposed to conduct negotiations with Israel) and that the second most popular candidate was Jibril Rajoub.

In mid-February the Fatah central committee elected a new vice-chairman and secretary-general to one-year terms.

“Former Nablus governor Mahmoud al-Aloul was appointed as the first ever vice president of the ruling Palestinian Fatah movement Wednesday night, marking him as a possible candidate to succeed Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian Authority president.

Aloul, 67, appointed by the Fatah Central Committee, is a close confidant of the 82-year-old Abbas. He is considered popular within the party, and was a long-time leader of Fatah’s armed wing before following the group’s leadership from Tunis to the West Bank in 1995 in the wake of the Oslo Accords. […]

Another possible successor to Abbas to emerge Wednesday night was the head of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, who was appointed secretary general of the 18-member Fatah Central Committee. […]

Previously, the secretary general and vice president of the Fatah central committee was one position, but it was decided to split it into two. Palestinian commentators assessed that Rajoub may have cut a deal with Aloul to split the position.

The appointments are due to be reviewed in a year.”

Analysts viewed the appointments as a blow to the possibility of Marwan Barghouti succeeding Mahmoud Abbas:

“Though Barghouti won the most votes during the Seventh Fatah Congress in December, the decision not to appoint him to any role Wednesday night is seen as an attempt to distance him from holding any office that would put him in line to succeed Abbas.

Some in Barghouti’s circle expressed concern in recent days that the Fatah central committee would deny him an appointment, according to anonymous statements given to Arab media.

Currently, Barghouti’s future in Fatah is unclear. According to his close associates, Barghouti agreed to participate in the Seventh Fatah Congress only after Abbas promised him the deputy position.”

The Jerusalem Post adds:

“Other important portfolios were also distributed to various committee members with the noticeable exception of Marwan Barghouti. Many in the party had expected the longtime Fatah leader to receive some form of recognition, and possibly the vice chairmanship.”

Although the appointment of Mahmoud al-Aloul does not qualify him as Abbas’ successor, it does introduce a new name to the list of possibilities.

“Grant Rumley, a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told the [Jerusalem] Post that while Aloul’s election may not be a game changer in terms of succession, it does introduce a new contender.

“By virtue of his new position as No. 2 in Fatah, Aloul cannot be ignored or discounted in the race to replace Abbas,” Rumley said.

After Aloul completes his one-year term as vice chairman, the central committee will either extend Aloul’s term or vote for a new vice chairman.”

However, with the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s chronic under-reporting of Palestinian affairs continuing, audiences remain in the dark with regard to these developments and their possible implications. The fact that Fatah dominates the PLO and the foreign donor funded Palestinian Authority means that its internal politics clearly have significant effect on what the BBC terms “the Middle East peace process”. BBC audiences, however, continue to be deprived of the information which would enhance their understanding of that particular “international issue.  

Related Articles:

BBC’s Knell omits back stories in portrayal of PA succession

BBC News continues to under-report internal Palestinian politics

Abbas’ Fatah reelection ignored by the BBC – in English

BBC News passes up coverage of recent Fatah congress

BBC News silent on Abbas’ rejection of Jewish state