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Fatah Youth Movement at Birzeit demands Abbas' resignation

Oct. 1, 2016 8:10 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 2, 2016 7:34 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Fatah Youth Movement of Birzeit University on Saturday slammed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for his “humiliating” participation in the funeral of former Israeli president and “criminal” Shimon Peres, and demanded that Abbas step down as president.

The statement released by the student youth movement came as the latest condemnation of Abbas, from Palestinians from across the political spectrum, for offering his condolences to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Peres’ passing at the funeral on Friday.

The group said they were shocked by Abbas’ decision to attend the funeral for the “criminal Shimon Peres,” and accused the Palestinian president of meanwhile not attending funerals or offering his condolences for Palestinians slain by Israeli forces, and disregarding the suffering of Palestinian prisoners.

“We condemn this humiliating participation, which is against the Palestinian people, and consider it a form of betrayal.”

Their statement addressed Abbas by each of his three titles, as the general leader of the Fatah Movement, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The Fatah Youth Movement said that Abbas, as the general leader of Fatah, violated Article 12 in the movement’s constitution, which states the aim of "completely freeing Palestine and ending the Zionist occupation economically, politically, militarily, and culturally," by attending Peres’ funeral.

As head of the PLO, the movement said that Abbas also violated the basic law of the PLO, and as president, Abbas "committed a crime against the Palestinian people by treating the executor and the victim equally," saying that attending the funeral was "an absurd step that would not bring any political accomplishments in the future."

They student movement concluded their statement by demanding an apology from Abbas, and demanding he step down as president.

Following the release of their statement, according to a Facebook page for Birzeit students, an official Fatah source said later on Saturday that “The statement released by the so-called Fatah Youth of Birzeit University does not represent the Fatah Youth position towards his Excellency the president, and a decision has been taken to suspend the administration of Fatah Youth at Birzeit University, and those who released the statement have been referred to internal questioning.”

The incident came as Palestinian security forces arrested a Palestinian military liaison officer from his home in Jenin on Saturday, after he shared a post on his Facebook page criticizing Abbas' participation in the funeral.

In the post that addressed Abbas directly, Osama Abu Arab, who was also suspended from his role as a major in the liaison’s office, said: “Whether (Peres) was a terrorist or not, whether he invented of the policy of breaking bones during the First Intifada or not, whether he was involved in the Jenin refugee camp massacre, the massacre of the al-Yasmeen neighborhood in Nablus, or the massacre of Qana -- who is he that you are going to partake in his funeral while the majority of the people you represent oppose him?”

Abu Arab and the student movement joined a chorus of outrage directed at Abbas, with the Hamas movement saying Friday the move to attend the funeral “encouraged normalization with Israel to the detriment of the Palestinian cause,” and with the Popular Resistance Committees saying that paying respects to one of Israel’s “biggest criminals” was “disregarding the feelings and sacrifices of the Palestinian people” and gave Israel “a pass for its crimes.”

However, some members of Fatah, the ruling party in the Palestinian Authority, maintained their support for the increasingly unpopular president.

Member of Fatah Central Committee Muhammad al-Madani defended Abbas' participation in the Peres funeral as a strategic political move.

Speaking to the Fatah-affiliated Ramallah-based radio station Mawtini (My Homeland) on Saturday, al-Madani highlighted that before Abbas left for the funeral, he visited former hunger-striking prisoner Malik al-Qadi in the hospital.

"Visiting al-Qadi before the funeral was a message to the occupation, that President Abbas attends to the people's interests and looks after their rights through all peaceful means."

"All the world leaders who were at the funeral applauded the president's participation and 90 percent of the attendants shook his hands,” al-Madani claimed. “It was a political move rather than just participation in a funeral."

The Palestinian public has become increasingly critical of Abbas’ Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority since a wave of unrest erupted in last year.

A number of factions -- mainly Hamas -- have said the PA has worked with the Israeli authorities to quash resistance against the occupation, with Hamas repeatedly slamming the PA for allegedly detaining Palestinians on Israel’s behalf.
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