Following what appears to have been the politically driven assassination of Palestinian activist and critic of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Nizar Banat, on Thursday, international actors hurried to issue statements of condemnation. It was an ultimate exercise in hypocrisy and insincerity, as these same actors have sponsored - both financially and politically - the very PA security bodies that arrested and killed Banat.
Indeed, these actors have invested billions of dollars in the PA’s security-sector reform project, and sponsored a process aiming to empower the PA’s security establishment, professionalise authoritarianism and criminalise resistance.
In the aftermath of Banat’s killing, the European Union delegation to the Palestinians announced that it was “shocked and saddened by the death of activist and former legislative candidate Nizar Banat following his arrest by the PA security forces last night”. The Representative Office of Canada to the Palestinian Authority declared that it was “deeply shocked and saddened”, while the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process was “alarmed” and “saddened”, urging a “transparent investigation”.
Yet, these and other western actors are, both directly and indirectly, complicit in Banat’s killing.
The killing of Banat, who had been arrested at least eight times by PA security forces over the past decade and survived a number of assassination attempts, offers a dramatic and devastating illustration of the PA’s security doctrine, adopted as part of its internationally sponsored state-building venture since 2007.
That doctrine has not only induced a failed state (or made the idea of a statehood a mere myth or hallucination) but also resulted in the growth of authoritarian trends and structures of repression, rather than a process of democratisation, inclusiveness and accountability.
The internationally sponsored security reform processes - the lynchpin of the PA’s post-2007 state building project - have made structural authoritarianism part and parcel of the Palestinian political system, as the dominance of the PA security establishment extended to political circles, making them even more undemocratic. This was all sponsored and funded by American and European aid.