by Julie Webb-Pullman
An apt moniker, after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas bowed to US pressure (undoubtedly with Israel in its ear) and disbanded the Ministry of Detainees’ Affairs when forming the Palestinian reconciliation government announced on Monday.
This is more than the ‘stab in the back’ of the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners it was described as by Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya – it is a very deliberate closed-fisted punch in the face of every Palestinian.
Palestine is a country where there is not a single family that has not had a family member detained, imprisoned, or killed by Israel.
It is a country with over 5,000 political prisoners currently languishing in Israeli jails after being illegally transferred there.
It is a country where anyone of any age at any time in any place – even a child at home in bed in the middle of the night – can be snatched from their dreams, beaten and tortured, sometimes to death – and not even have any charge presented against them, let alone an opportunity to defend themselves in an open court, with access to legal representation or the evidence against them – if such a thing even exists.
It is a country where the families of the detained are not permitted regular visits, where aged parents die without ever setting eyes on the sons they last saw 20 or 30 years ago.
It is a country whose detainees are regularly fed slops, beaten in their cells, thrown into solitary confinement, denied medical treatment, and tortured to death.
It is a country that does NOT need a Ministry to protect the rights of its detainees?
Is a detainee portfolio in the hands of an already-overburdened Minister with two other major repsonsibilites, social affairs and agriculture, going to receive the dedicated attention it deserves?
The international community has scurrilously abandoned Palestinian detainees despite its obligations under international law to protect them.
Now, their own President has done the same.