Alwaght- President of Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas on Friday dismissed Issa Qaraqe, head of the PLO’s Committee for Detainees and Ex-Detainees, drawing sharp criticism from Palestinians.
Committee for Detainees and Ex-Detainees is in charge of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli regime's prison. There are currently nearly 5,900 Palestinian prisoners, including 291 children in Israeli prisons
No official reason was given for the decision to fire Qaraqe, who is hugely popular among Palestinian security prisoners and their families. However, many Palestinians believe that the decision to dismiss Qaraqe was linked to growing US and Israeli pressure on the PA leadership to halt payments to security prisoners and families of Palestinians killed Israeli attacks.
They noted that Qaraqe had recently declared his opposition to the PA government’s economic sanctions against the Gaza Strip that include, among other things, halting payments to former security prisoners living in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.
Several Palestinian factions, including Hamas, criticized Abbas’s decision to fire Qaraqe and accused the PA leadership of bowing to American and Israeli pressure.
“The decision is purely political and it was expected in wake of the growing American and Israeli pressure on President Abbas to halt payments to prisoners and families of martyrs, Amjad Abu Latifeh, an ex-detainee, wrote in an article published by the Amad news website.
"Abbas has been gradually complying with these demands,” he added.
Abu Latifeh pointed out that Abbas had canceled the PA Ministry for Prisoners Affairs a few years ago and replaced it with the Committee for Detainees and Ex-Detainees, which belongs to the PLO.
“This decision is an extension to the Palestinian Authority’s surrender to external dictates,” said Talal Abu Tharifeh, a senior official with the PLO’s DFLP. “The Palestinian Authority is standing against the prisoners by accepting orders from Washington and [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu.”
Rabah Muhana, a representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, another PLO group, condemned Abbas’s decision as “repressive.” The decision to fire Qaraqe is a “new repressive measure against anyone who opposes the policies of the Palestinian Authority,” he charged.
Hamas claimed that Qaraqe was fired because of his opposition to the PA government’s decision to halt payments to former security prisoners living in the Gaza Strip.
Senior Hamas official Musa Dudeen denounced the decision as a “blatant assault on the prisoners and their rights.” He claimed that Abbas’s decision was “consistent with the policy of undermining the steadfastness of our prisoners.”
Last Thursday, Abbas surprised Palestinians by appointing long-time PA presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh as deputy prime minister and minister of information.
Earlier, Abbas appointed veteran Fatah official Nabil Sha’ath as chairman of the PLO’s Committee for Palestinian Refugees in the Diaspora – a position that was held by Tayseer Khaled, a senior official with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).
The DFLP condemned the decision, saying it “undermines the prestige, credibility and respect of the PLO.”