On 4 January, Palestinian Facebook users fired a storm of satirical Arabic posts at the Palestinian Authority (PA) in response to a post by PLO Revolutionary Council member and spokesman Jamal Nazzal. The official had shared a photo contrasting local streets before and after the inception of the PA. The top half of the photo, dated 1989, shows masked resistance fighters marching along an undeveloped street as the public applauds them. The bottom half of the photo showcases a well-developed street, likely in an upscale neighborhood in Ramallah.
Nazzal’s juxtaposition of the two images was meant to praise the PA. The caption of the photo read “the sacrifice of those heroes  opened the road for the Palestinian Authority, whose leadership ensured our accomplishments.” Many Palestinians took issue with his claim, because juxtaposing these two images suggests a dubious trade-off: Palestinian human rights in exchange for economic development.
The Palestinian Authority has long been viewed as a body that subverted Palestinian resistance through “security coordination” with the Israeli occupation forces, the linchpin of the Oslo Accords. Two practices that are emblematic of this relationship are the Palestinian Authority’s detention of prisoners released from their Israeli captors, and the monitoring and suppression of critical voices.
Similarly, the promised economic gains of the Palestinian Authority have proven elusive. The truth is that the Oslo Accords’ economic stipulations, as enshrined in the Paris Protocol and the Cairo Agreement, have crippled Palestinian innovation by building a framework favorable to Israeli security while blatantly disregarding Palestinian basic needs such as free movement and access to natural resources. The result has been disastrous. The Palestinian economy is largely dependent on foreign aid, with unemployment hovering at 30%. Outside of enclaves such as Ramallah, poverty is prevalent. Under these circumstances, corruption runs rampant in both the private and public sectors. It is no surprise that 79% of Palestinians believe Palestinian Authority institutions are corrupt, according to the most recent poll of public opinion by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research. This perception is reinforced by a slight majority that, contrary to Nazzal’s post, believes the PA is a burden rather than an accomplishment for Palestinians.
These facts were not lost on the many Palestinians who took to social media to challenge Nazzal’s brazen assessment of the Palestinian Authority using the hashtag قبل_وبعد_السلطة# (#pre_post_PA). Popular satirist Ali Qaraqe, who fled to Turkey because of the PA crackdown on his scathing satire of Palestinian leadership, called on nearly 170K fans on social media to jeer at Nazzal’s photo. Users depicted the devolution of the Palestinian Authority as rotting bananas and an eagle turned chicken. Others took aim at Hamas officials and Palestinian celebrities.
As the hashtag went viral, Nazzal removed the post and later reposted an edited version. In an attempt to stave off criticism, Nazzal edited the caption four times, according to the post history. It is unclear whether the Palestinian Authority had reacted to the online activity, though it isn’t far fetched it would exact retribution on some of the users by blocking their accounts or detaining them.
The Palestinian coat of arms, the Eagle of Saladin, before (right) and after (left) the PA, turned into a scrawny bird.
Senior Hamas political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, before (right) and after (left) the PA.
على اليمين اسماعيل هنية قبل تأسيس السلطة الفلسطينية على اليسار اسماعيل هنية بعد تأسيس السلطة الفلسطينية#جمال_ستايل#جمال_نزال_ستايل#قبل_بعد_السلطة
“Before the PA it was the PLO, after the PA it became CO. LTD.”
قبل السلطة كانت PLO بعد السلطة صارت Co.LTD#قبل_بعد_السلطة#جمال_ستايل
“Before the PA there was chaos and corruption, after the PA corruption became organized, thank God.”
قبل السلطة كان في فوضى بالفساد بس هلا تنظم و"الحمد لله"#قبل_بعد_السلطة
Bananas before and after the PA.
قبل تأسيس السلطة الموز كان زي الي بصورة التانية بعد تأسيس السلطة الموز صار زي الي بصورة الاولى 😂#قبل_بعد_السلطة
“Before the PA Nael Barghouti was a prisoner, after the PA he is still a prisoner.”
قبل السلطة كان نائل البرغوثي أسيرابعد السلطة بقي نائل البرغوثي أسيرا#قبل_بعد_السلطة
“Before the PA I was called Palestinian, but after the PA I’m called a ‘returnee.'”
قبل السلطة كان اسمي فلسطينية ، بعد السلطة رجعت على الضفة وشفت وجوهكم العكرة وسمتوني عائدة 😂 انا فلسطينية مش عائدة يا اهل الضفة👎#قبل_بعد_السلطة
“Before the PA resistance fighters would be held in one prison, after the PA they’d be held in two prisons.”
قبل السلطة كان المقاوم يدخل سجن بعد السلطة صار المقاوم يدخل سجنين#قبل_بعد_السلطة
“Before the PA a kilogram of Falafel cost 1 NIS, after the PA a sandwich costs 5 NIS.”
قبل السلطة كان كيلو الفلافل بشيكلبعد السلطة صارت سندويشة الفلافل بـ 5 شيكل،، #قاطعوا_الفلافل#لن_يمر#قبل_بعد_السلطة#جمال_نزال_ستايل
“Before the PA it was the PLO, after the PA it became an NGO.”
Mohammed Assaf, famed Arab Idol, before (top) and after (bottom) the PA.
في الأعلى المغني محمد عساف قبل تأسيس السلطة الفلسطينية في الأسفل المغني محمد عساف بعد تأسيس السلطة الفلسطينية#جمال_ستايل#جمال_نزال_ستايل#قبل_بعد_السلطة
Mahmoud Habbash, Minister of Religious of Affairs, before (top) and after (bottom) the PA.
في الأعلى محمود الهباش قبل تأسيس السلطة الفلسطينية في الأسفل محمود الهباش بعد تأسيس السلطة الفلسطينية#جمال_ستايل#جمال_نزال_ستايل#قبل_بعد_السلطة
“Before the PA there were 120 thousand settlers, after the PA their number increased to 750 thousand.”
قبل السلطة كان عدد المستوطنين بالضفة 120 الف بعد السلطة أصبح عددهم 750 ألف#قبل_بعد_السلطة
“Before the PA Palestinians were equals under occupation, after the PA we have Palestinians under occupation and VIPs.”
قبل السلطة كل الشعب الفلسطيني تحت الاحتلال متساويبعد السلطة في فلسطينية Vip وفي شعب#قبل_بعد_السلطة
“The Palestinian citizen” before (left) and after (right) the PA.