A meeting held in Ramallah this week consisting of around 200 political, academic and non-profit leaders opposed to the upcoming ‘direct talks’ in Washington was broken up when plainclothes officers from the Palestinian President’s security forces disrupted the meeting and officers outside harassed the attendees.According to attendees, the conference was about to approve a statement opposing the upcoming talks between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when a group of young men began shouting and holding up pictures of Mahmoud Abbas. The disruption caused the meeting to end in chaos, with no approval of the statement, and when attendees went outside, they found Abbas’ security forces waiting.

The Al Haq Center for Human Rights, which is known for exposing abuses and corruption in the Palestinian Authority, reported that their representatives at the meeting were targeted for harassment by the Palestinian Authority security forces.

Acording to the group’s press release, ‘Upon seeing one of the staff members, Wesam Ahmad, equipped with a camera, plain-clothed General Intelligence officers accosted him and knocked the camera from his hand. After retrieving the camera and asking why he was being prevented from taking any pictures, Mr. Ahmed was surrounded by approximately 10 members of the GI. They grabbed him around the neck and head while holding his arms, stripping the camera from him. During the attack, another Al-Haq staff member, Ms. Nina Atallah, who tried to intervene to assist her colleague, was injured and had to be taken to hospital. … It emerged, after asking policemen on the scene, that Al-Haq’s camera had been confiscated by the GI. Equipment and footage from journalists on the scene were also confiscated during the incident.’

The upcoming ‘direct talks’ between Abbas and the Israeli leadership are opposed by a large segment of the Palestinian parliamentarians, as well as civil society. They see the talks as another empty gesture, in which the Palestinian leadership will be pressured to give up even more of the Palestinian people’s rights, with no mandate to do so.

Palestinians opposed to the talks have argued that the past agreements, such as the Oslo Agreement and the Camp David Accords, have never been enforced, and instead of embarking on a new stage of talks, past agreements should instead be enforced. The Palestinian President was threatened with a loss of aid money if he refused to go into the ‘direct talks’ with the Israeli leadership, without preconditions – even those preconditions agreed upon in past ‘peace talks’ will be up for re-negotiation.