Thursday, July 16, 2009

PLO lashes out over Qaddoumi comments

The PLO has wasted no time in moving to disparage and punish Farouq Qaddoumi for remarks he made in Amman, Jordan insinuating that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas conspired with Israeli agents to kill his predecessor Yasser Arafat. The popular Al-Jazeera television network's operations in the West Bank have been suspended by the Fateh-dominated Palestinian Authority for reporting on the comments. The PA charged Al-Jazeera with incitement against the government and spreading false information. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad appears to be spearheading the effort to censor Al-Jazeera.

The "false information" charge appears to be false in itself, as the Palestinian Liberation Organization has lashed out at Qaddoumi over his alleged comments. The PLO is not alleging the senior Fateh party leader was misqouted or misattributed to him, but that Qaddoumi is a senile, deranged shell of a man, seeking to sew the seeds of chaos in order to grab more power in Fateh. They have threatened to remove him from PLO.

Here is a smattering of what the PLO has said about Qaddoumi:

He has "lost his psychological balance" and is suffering from a "sick mind." "Apparently his advanced age is responsible for the remarks he made," said former PA security chief Mohammad Dahlan.

The PA sets a dangerous authoritarian precedent by suspending the operations of a media outlet that simply printed comments stated by a top Fateh official. To shut down such a popular sattelite network (60% of Palestinians regularly tune in, making the station the most popular in Palestine), the PA shows how truly worried it is about its legitimacy, it's power relative to Hamas, and controlling speech to save the "national interest."

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