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Abbas approves discharge of Fatah leader

Oct. 22, 2016 10:36 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 25, 2016 3:14 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in his capacity as the chairman of the Palestinian Authority's ruling party the Fatah movement, approved on Saturday a decision to discharge senior Fatah leader and lawmaker Jihad Tummaleh from the Fatah movement.

According to state-run Palestinian news agency Wafa, the decision to discharge Tummaleh, who is a resident of al-Amari refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, came following a recommendation by a Fatah committee known as the Anti-Delinquency Committee.

Tummaleh was also a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), representing Fatah in the Ramallah district.

An order announcing the decision and signed by Abbas read: "Decision: Announcing the expulsion of Jihad Tummaleh from Fatah movement following recommendation by the Anti-Delinquency Committee. Concerned parties to be notified. Issued in Ramallah on Oct. 22, 2016."

The order provided no further details regarding the reason for discharging Tummaleh.

Earlier on Saturday, Palestinian security forces dispersed a meeting organized by Tummaleh and other local Fatah leaders at a community center in al-Amari refugee camp. Tummaleh wrote on his Facebook page Saturday that "hundreds of Fatah leaders convened today at al-Amari club."

He explained that the goal of the meeting was to discuss "Fatah unity and awakening."

It remained unclear if the event was related to his discharge from the party.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has come under fire for cracking down on Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territory criticizing the Palestinian 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 initially 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 criticizing 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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