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Jerusalem spokesman 2nd Fatah official to be discharged after attending meeting

Oct. 23, 2016 4:52 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 26, 2016 11:36 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Spokesperson for the Jerusalem office of the Fatah movement Raafat Elayyan was removed from office on Saturday, soon after Fatah -- the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA) -- discharged one of its senior leaders and lawmakers, Jihad Tummaleh.

Both Elayyan and Tummaleh participated in a meeting attended by hundreds of local Fatah leaders at a community center in al-Amari refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on Saturday, which was dispersed by Palestinian security forces.

Member of Fatah’s Central Committee Mahmoud al-Aloul notified Jerusalem district leaders of the decision to discharge Elayyan later Saturday evening. Elayyan had served as a spokesperson for Fatah movement in Jerusalem for the last two years.

While the order to discharge Tummaleh -- approved Saturday evening by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas -- did not provide an explanation for the decision, sources in the Fatah movement told Ma’an on Sunday that the decision to discharge Elayyan did come in response to his participation in the meeting at al-Amari refugee camp.

Tummaleh wrote on his Facebook page Saturday that the goal of the meeting was to discuss "Fatah unity and awakening."

The anonymous Fatah sources also said that the meeting in al-Amari was considered “illegal” and that its participants have been accused of “delinquency” by Fatah’s Anti-Delinquency Committee, which was also responsible for the recommendation to discharge Tummaleh.

Amid growing dissent within Fatah, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has come under fire for cracking down on Palestinians for criticizing the government.

Most recently, Palestinian officer Osama Mansour was detained on Oct. 1 for publishing a Facebook post asking Abbas to reconsider his decision to attend the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres.

Mansour, who served as the director of public relations and media at the Palestinian military liaison -- a unit with the Palestinian security forces responsible for coordinating security with Israel, was sentenced to a year in prison.

However, on the same day he was sentenced, Abbas issued a presidential decree to release Mansour and ordered that he be retired from serving with the security forces instead.

In August, International NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report revealing that Palestinian security forces in the West Bank had detained activists and rap musicians for criticizingn the PA’s well-known security cooperation with Israel, while also accusing the government of corruption.

The group stated that the recent violations of freedom of speech represented a larger pattern by Palestinian authorities which has been documented by the group over the past five years.

“At a time when many Palestinians are critical of their leaders, the crackdowns have a chilling effect on public debate in the traditional news media, and on social media,” the report read.

Despite the fact that violations of press freedoms by Palestinian authorities have been fewer and less severe than those committed by Israeli authorities, Palestinian press freedoms watchdog MADA noted in a recent report that as a direct result of violations by Palestinian authorities, Palestinian journalists and media workers “avoid addressing several topics” and practiced self censorship.

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