Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Mahmoud Abbas “on trial”
A youth group in the Gaza Strip held a mock trial for the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday. The Youth Parliament, a group under the media department of the Islamist group Hamas, prosecuted Abbas on charge of “betraying the blood of the martyrs and the injured”.
The charge was in reference to Abbas’s agreement to defer the vote on the Goldstone Report at the United Nations Human Rights Council earlier this month. Many human rights groups have been pressing nations to endorse the UN report critical of the Gaza War seeing it as a way to hold both Israel and Hamas accountable for the hundreds of civilian deaths in the devastating war. The vote on the Goldstone Report was delayed to next March, which looked like a victory for Israel, and some Palestinians charged his decision had raised serious questions about Abbas’s leadership. Abbas, doing some damage control, pledged to push for an exceptional UNHCR session, which is being held on Wednesday. (Read more here.)
A panel of three teen judges presided over this trial held at the Hamas media offices in Rafah, a city in the Gaza Strip. A man with a similar physique as the Palestinian Authority president acted the part of the defendant, wearing a mask with a picture of Abbas’s face, standing handcuffed and chained at the ankles throughout the trial. He also mimicked Abbas’s accent and intonation.
The prosecutor’s opening statement was followed by testimonies from a human rights group representative, an Arab League representative, Abbas’s defense lawyer, and Mahmoud Abbas “himself”. A young girl, representative of “the children of Palestine”, claiming to have come straight from school to testify against the “traitor”, spoke as a “witness to the crimes committed against the children”.
Abbas was unsurprisingly found guilty, and sentenced to life in prison. His personal property is also to be seized for public use, the mock verdict said.
The Parliament is comprised of 50 girls and boys under the age of 18. It has already “tried” several politicians: former U.S. President George W. Bush towards the end of his term and former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon shortly before he fell ill a few years ago.