The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has pointed to Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) recent Cyber Crime Law and its reflection of the police state the PA has become in renewing its call for the termination of US aid to the PA.
The new Palestinian law, combating information technology crimes, which has sparked a wave of protests from Palestinian Arab journalists and human rights organizations and which was signed by Mahmoud Abbas on July 11 without review by the Palestinian Legislative Council, permits the imprisonment of Palestinians for merely “liking” or sharing published material on the internet of which the PA disapproves.
The Law will further restrict freedom of expression, especially on social media, like Facebook and Twitter, to which Palestinian journalists and bloggers have resorted increasingly over the years, in the absence of a free and independent media in the PA-controlled territories. Social media have become the venues for criticism of Abbas and the PA’s leadership and financial and administrative corruption. However, with Abbas’ signing of the new Law, Facebook, Twitter and other social media will now be closely monitored by the PA security forces.
The new Cyber Crime Law comes on the heels of the PA’s recent decision to block more than 20 Palestinian websites accused of publishing comments and reportage critical of Abbas and the PA leadership generally. As a Ramallah journalist has observed, “this law carries penalties that are tougher than those imposed on thieves and sex offenders … the law, in its present form, is designed to limit the freedom of the media and punish people for simple matters,” (Khaled Abu Toameh, ‘Abbas: Shut Up or I will Arrest You!,’ Gatestone Institute, July 17, 2017).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “Mahmoud Abbas’ new Cyber Crime Law –– which has not been reviewed or approved by anyone other than Abbas, a dictator who has not held an election in twelve years and is currently in the thirteenth year of a five-year term –– lays bare the fact that the PA, in addition to being a pro-terror, anti-peace, terror-promoting regime, is also increasingly becoming a police state in which no one can discuss anything surrounding the PA leadership.
“This did not start now, but has been an aspect of the PA from its inception. Just recall, for instance, when Yasser Arafat jailed the Palestinian Arab journalist Daoud Kuttab merely for broadcasting a recording of a segment of a session of the Palestinian Legislative Council in which criticism had been expressed of Arafat by legislators.
“Indeed, as Khaled Abu Toameh notes, this new Law merely formalizes what has long been the situation within Abbas’ PA.
“That being the case, why on earth are we, the American tax-payer, funding this monstrous, terror-supporting, pro-terror, anti-peace regime that is also a massive human rights abuser of its own people and increasingly a police state?
“Let us remember that this is the same PA which, in 2014, paid prisoners and released prisoners approximately $12 million US dollars each month or $144 million for the year.
“It did not pay this to all prisoners; it only paid prisoners who had murdered, or been involved in the murder, or attempted murder, of Jewish civilians. Thus, Palestinian car thieves in Israeli prisons do not qualify for PA salaries, but Hamas and Fatah terrorist murderers do qualify.
“Accordingly, all donor countries to the PA are not only enabling Mahmoud Abbas to incentivize and reward terrorism, but to also repress his people and crush dissent.
“We are not morally or otherwise obliged to do this; quite the reverse.
“We call again upon President Trump to end US tax-payer funded to Mahmoud Abbas’ PA.”