Palestinian Prisoners’ Group Says It Is Not Being Disbanded, Contrary to Rumors

Activists tell Haaretz there was a major power struggle between the club and Fatah on the one hand, and the Palestinian Authority on the other, but the PA will not be cutting funds

Fatah Secretary-General Jibril Rajoub
Nir Keidar

The Palestinian Prisoners Club on Wednesday quashed rumors about its reported demise, saying there are now no plans to disband it.

The announcement followed stories at the weekend that the Palestinian Authority had suspended its funding of the group. According to the prisoners club, the stories about its closure were unfounded rumors.

The PPC’s announcement followed a similar one by Fatah Secretary-General Jibril Rajoub, who denied any plan to disband the group. Rajoub stressed that the nongovernmental organization was established through the efforts of Fatah prisoners, and that it will maintain its present role of providing support to Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

But despite the announcements and denials about a possible closure, Haaretz has learned there was a major power struggle behind the scenes between the directors of the NGO and senior Fatah officials on the one hand, and the PA on the other.

According to PPC activists, meetings took place in recent days between the directors of the group and Fatah Central Committee members, during which the committee received a letter containing a clear threat to embark on a public and media battle against any move to close the club.

Activists added that the move to disband the organization by freezing its budget from the PA and transferring its institutions to relevant government ministries was basically a political decision, in light of the ongoing power struggle within the organization.

A leading figure in the PPC said that through this week’s talks, his organization had enabled the relevant parties to extricate themselves from a potentially difficult situation. “I’m happy this is the result, and the club and all of its institutions will continue to operate for the benefit of the prisoners and their families,” he said.

Haaretz reported on Sunday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had instructed the PA to freeze the transfer of funds to the club, which provides professional training and legal representation to Palestinian prisoners, among other things. Sources involved in the details, including club activists, had told Haaretz the PA had stopped transferring money several weeks ago, but the club hadn’t been officially informed about any change.