"The State of Palestine" is not a place that encourages or tolerates freedom of speech if recent events are any guide.
David Keyes has made this very clear in an article written by him in the New York Times:
Last week, a 26-year-old Palestinian activist, Anas Awwad, was sentenced in absentia by a court in Nablus, the West Bank, to one year in prison for "extending his tongue" against the Palestinian Authority's president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Facebook.Thousands have joined a Facebook group to show their solidarity with Mr. Awwad, but the damage has been done. Free speech has been set back, and a chill sent throughout Palestinian society.
Awwad had uploaded a photo of Abbas on Facebook dubbing it with the caption "the new striker in "Real Madrid". Perhaps he might have got a lighter sentence had the caption read "the new striker in Unreal Palestine "
Awwad's "crime" appears to have been committed in the context of the PLO's ongoing six year struggle for political dominance over its bitter rival Hamas.
In all likelihood Awwad is a Hamas-supporter and has become the latest victim among hundreds of Palestinians who are exposed to detention because of their political opinions.
The law used to convict Awwad was a 50-year-old Jordanian law still operative in the West Bank. The law became applicable in the West Bank when it was unified with Transjordan to form a new territorial entity called Jordan in 1950.
The law was intended to punish critics of Jordan's monarchy.
Applying that law now to send someone to prison for criticising an unelected and unconstitutional President overstaying his term of office four years after his term has expired indicates the ingenious legal thinking that has permeated the legal system of the "State of Palestine"
The sentence highlights the questionable democratic credentials Mr. Abbas claims to possess when meeting Western leaders.
A suit and tie do not maketh the man.
Abbas has pledged to move Palestine towards a practising democracy as the final destination for creating the two-state solution.
David Singer is an Australian Lawyer, a Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International - an organisation calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine. Previous articles written by him can be found at www.jordanispalestine.blogspot.com.