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Despite Israeli help to contain virus, Palestinian PM spreads conspiracies

Even as Israel and the Palestinian Authority are cooperating to prevent both the spread of the coronavirus and an economic crisis in the Palestinian territories, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh is promoting conspiracy theories against Israel.
RAMALLAH, WEST BANK - MARCH 15: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY â MANDATORY CREDIT - "PALESTINIAN PRIME MINISTRY / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh (C) and Palestinian Health Minister Mai Al-Kaileh (L) hold a press conference regarding measures taken against coronavirus (COVID-19), on March 15, 2020 in Ramallah, West Bank. (Photo by Palestinian Prime Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

“Israeli conspiracy” is a very common catchphrase in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza Strip. As a journalist, I've seen it hundreds of times over the years in the stories that spread among the Palestinian population, accusing Israel of all sorts of evil plots to harm them. All too often, Palestinians think of Israel as controlling the world, especially the United States. The purpose, they claim, is to harm the Palestinians. Plots and conspiracies are routine in the territories as a result of the occupation and constant friction between soldiers, settlers and the Palestinian population. They reflect the deep distrust between the opposing sides.

In the age of social networks, conspiracy theories spread like wildfire. But when the Palestinian prime minister himself spreads them, it is no longer a matter of anonymous rumors. These tales and accusations have diplomatic consequences.

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