January 18, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 9726

Former Palestinian Minister: The West Bank Is In Chaos; Palestinian Authority Has Failed To Build Properly Governed Lawful State

January 18, 2022
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 9726

In an article in the daily Al-Ayyam, Ashraf Al-'Ajrami, a former minister of prisoners affairs in the Palestinian Authority (PA), warned that the West Bank is in chaos, manifested in violent clan and tribal conflicts that are threatening public security. This situation, he said, results from the failure of all the Palestinian institutions – the education system, the executive and judicial bodies, the political parties and even civil society organizations – which have not managed to build a national civil infrastructure divorced from clan and tribal loyalties.

Al-'Ajrami added that the public confidence in the PA institutions is eroding, and that the PA is losing its ability to govern, because the public relies more and more on local and tribal frameworks to protect it and handle its affairs. He stated that the discourse of resistance, which glorifies weapons, only intensifies the phenomenon of citizens taking the law into their own hands and using their weapons to settle personal and local scores. If Palestinian society slides into complete anarchy, he warned, international elements will stop supporting the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, out of fear that it will turn into a failed and corrupt country. He urged the  Palestinians to embrace values of proper government and the rule of law and thus restore their image as "a civilized and educated nation that can play an active role in the culture of the world."

It should be noted that the weakness of the rule of law in the PA is an issue often discussed in the Palestinian media, with many writers claiming that it is a symptom of deeper problems in Palestinian society that can threaten the future of the Palestinian national cause. [1]

Ashraf Al-'Ajrami (Source:

The following are translated excerpts from Al-'Ajrami's article:[2]

"The occupied West Bank witnesses many quarrels and conflicts among clans and tribes, in which citizens are sometimes killed or injured, property is damaged, public and social safety is severely jeopardized and chaos reigns, including chaos caused by weapons outside the control [of the authorities]. Sadly, these quarrels are no longer confined to [the streets] of the various villages and cities, but have reached respectable education facilities such as Al-Quds and Bir Zeit universities and the Arab American [University in Jenin], one of whose students was murdered recently [on December 4, 2021] right across from [the campus]. This destructive deterioration is very grave, for in the past the universities and education facilities led society towards [greater] awareness, culture and enlightenment, while also spearheading the national struggle. Today they have somehow become hotspots of stupid and meaningless quarrels that reflect nothing but ignorance, backwardness and the loss of their national and cultural role. 

"What is happening lately in Hebron, in various parts of the West Bank and in the universities and education centers is a reflection of a complete and disgraceful Palestinian failure, on all levels and in all spheres. It is a failure of the [Palestinian] National Authority, which has not managed to become [the foundation for] a proper civil state in which clans and tribes dissolve and whose citizens turn to it for legal succor and for law and order. Sadly, the [public's] faith in the ability of the PA's executive and judicial bodies to handle affairs, dispense justice, and settle conflicts between citizens is in decline.  To resolve conflicts, citizens turn more to clan and tribal frameworks than to the PA institutions, which have begun to lose control over society and over the [armed] gangs – due to the collapse of moral values, the deterioration of the rule of law and the absence of motivation by the PA itself to fulfill its duties. Beyond all this, the presence of corruption often prevents the PA from addressing the root of these problems fairly and according to the law.

"This is also a failure of the education system, which is supposed to spearhead the development of a civilized society and instill modern thinking that replaces clan and tribal affiliations with affiliation to the homeland, the state and society... Furthermore, it is a resounding failure of the Palestinian factions and parties, who have abandoned the masses and no longer play a role in educating the public, focusing instead on exclusive activities pertaining to controversial political policies and internal conflicts based on slogans.[3] In this manner they contribute to deepening the schism and creating a culture of disagreement and conflict. They themselves avoid bringing their conflicts to the [Palestinian] legal and ruling [bodies]. The influential factions that control the [West] Bank [i.e., Fatah] and Gaza [i.e., Hamas] have no interest in the law or in legal systems, because they believe their interests are protected even in a state of chaos, corruption and conflict. Other factions essentially have no real and meaningful role in shaping public opinion, and they usually emulate the large and influential factions. Thus, the [entire] national movement is no longer an engine of active national  change; in fact, it often plays a passive role.

"Incompetence and failure also characterize the civil society organizations, which adopted plans for educating [the public] and instilling humane and civilized values, but in most cases are unable to bring about the change required by their plans and goals… although, generally speaking, the civil society organizations are better [than others] in instilling a modern national awareness and culture.

"Perhaps the language and slogans of the various national factions and groups, which glorify weapons and speak of resistance, have extensive negative impact on the culture of society. Most of these [factions and groups] have no actual plan of resistance, but are more interested in controlling society. The prevalent language of force does not distinguish between clandestine resistance [waged] far away from the [public] eye… and the ubiquitous weapons that are paraded [everywhere] and have become the weapons of clans and groups that are out of control and ascribe no importance to the law or to the rights and lives of others.

"Sadly, we are not alone in this world, and everyone is following what is happening among us. Every negative development, even on the local social level, affects our struggle to attain our national rights. When Palestinian society reaches a state of complete chaos and the ruling institutions lose their role, we will no longer find anyone to support the idea of establishing an independent Palestinian state. Even those who firmly support our just rights will not be eager to establish a failing state and a tribal society that is not ruled by standard authorities but by tribal forces. True, our people still regard themselves as a civilized and educated nation that can play an active role in the culture of the world, but this cannot remain just a slogan we repeat. We must prove it in practice, in our everyday conduct. Can we restore [our] civilized image and consolidate it? Or are we headed for further deterioration and a destructive failure?"[4]


[2] Al-Ayyam (PA), December 8, 2021.

[3] Perhaps a reference to the conflict with Israel and/or to the schism between Fatah and Hamas.

[4] Al-Ayyam (PA), December 8, 2021.

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