But while the PA and Hamas have supported such movements abroad, they are cracking down on them as they begin to emerge at home.
In recent weeks, using Facebook to organize, hundreds of protestors have appeared in Arab towns in Judea and Samaria waving Palestinian Authority flags and calling for reform. Smaller gatherings have occurred in Gaza, ruled by the PA's rival Hamas.
Organizers hope for mass rallies in both locations on March 15th. But Arabs in areas controlled by the Fatah-led PA and Hamas face a unique reality that Arabs under other autocratic regimes do not. While seeking an independent Arab state in the Jewish heartland, they do not constitute a unified polity residing in a contiguous area or have a single administrative body to protest against. Ruled by rival governments wedged on different sides of Israel, its not clear whom the protestors wish to confront or what their common cause may be. Some want the rival PA governments to reconcile. Others demand they resign. Still others want to demonstrate against continued Israeli presence.
The Western-backed PA, under the supposedly reformed terrorist group Fatah, administers several semi-autonomous cantons in Judea and Samaria, while the Islamic terrorist organization Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007. The division between the two factions has crippled the Arab nationalist cause in these areas and led Hamas and the PA into perennial armed conflict. In Gaza, Hamas has been incrementally imposing its own stringent brand of Sharia Law, while in Judea and Samaria, Mahmoud Abbas has postponed elections for national posts for almost two years, banned its people from working for Israelis or dealing in Israeli goods, and used his US-trained and funded security forces to quell dissent.
A recent attempt at reconciliation between the PA and Hamas floundered when Abbas announced elections as a sop to popular dissent, but restricted them to municipal rather than national elections. But despite their bizarre situation and the absence of a single unwanted leader to focus on, activist Hasan Farahat, 22, insists there is enough common cause for a revolution: "Everybody is sick of the situation," he said. "We want work, we want the right to speak freely. We want freedom."
Hamas and the PA, however, see even small demonstrations as direct challenges. On Monday, Hamas cracked down on a small demonstration in Gaza City demanding reconciliation with the PA and seized video from a German TV crew showing a security official striking the protest organizer as he arrested him. In previous nascent protests, Hamas security arrested activists and seized phones and computers, according to the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights. PA security forces initially broke up protests - some with as many as 2,000 participants - by beating participants with truncheons. Organizers say they are being watched by the authorities and have received threats.
While the mainstream media and human rights groups often loudly decry the use of force on the part of Israel's security forces to break up violent Arab riots in Judea and Samaria, there has been little criticism of Hamas and PA violence against peaceful protest gatherings by Arabs in their administrative areas. Nor has either faction, both of which have vocally supported populist self-determination the Arab world, explained why they violently oppose it for the people whose cause they claim to champion.
taken on February 24-26 indicated that they are not very interested in revolution anyway.