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Fayyad Says PA Is Helpless Due to Israeli Fetters

By Khalid Amayreh

in occupied Jerusalem

PIC, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, February 6, 2012

Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has admitted that his government was being crippled by Israeli restrictions . Speaking during a Nablus celebration marking the Prophet Muhammed's birthday on 4 January, Fayyad said "it is no secret that we are functioning under the most difficult situation due to Israeli restrictions and debilitating measures."

"We are under Israeli military occupation. We are not free to do what we want."

Fayyad appealed to an unhearing international community to pressure Israel to comply with United Nations resolutions, including freezing settlement expansion, stopping land seizure as well as putting an end to the systematic ethnic cleansing pursued by Israel against the Palestinian people.

The appointed Prime Minister who enjoys western backing has been forecasting pessimistic news with regard to economic conditions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This includes the need to impose more taxes, growing poverty, and a widening gap between rich and poor layers of society.

The overall living conditions in Occupied Palestine have deteriorated markedly in recent months, forcing many Palestinian families to slash their spending significantly due to high prices, hyper inflation, shrinking income and an unrelenting increase in the prices of basic commodities, including food, fuel and housing.

Other families have been forced to take their children out of college because they can no longer afford to pay tuitions.

Unfortunately, many of the students forced out of college due to their inability to pay tuitions head for Jewish settlements for employment. A few years ago, oil-rich Arab nations, such as Kuwait , Saudi Arabia , and the United Arab Emirates used to generously subsidize Palestinian universities, enabling poor students to stay in college and complete their courses.

Now, however, it seems that college education is available only for those who can pay. It is unclear if this trend is part of the austerity measures the PA regime is asked to carry out in deference to International Bank's instructions or symptoms of the harsh worldwide economic and financial crisis which is crippling economies around the globe.

Needless to say, in other countries economic and financial measures may rectify the crisis. However, in occupied Palestine , the fact of Israeli occupation makes it virtually impossible for the PA to pursue any genuine economic activity unhindered by Israel .

Indeed, free economic activities and a foreign military occupation are an oxymoron, since Israel , not the PA, controls the border crossings, the export-import movement as well as the most basic operations such as traffic and access. Some experts in macro economics describe as "original sin" PA efforts to bring in investments and build various projects while the Palestinians were agonizing under Israeli military occupation.

A few years ago, the PA seemed to have underestimated and downplayed the crippling Israeli factor, preferring to pursue economic planning as if the occupation didn't exist nor had only minimal effect on Palestinian economic development..

The PA thought then that a combination of artificially-induced economic momentum and international pressure would eventually force Israel to allow for a semblance of normal economic activities in the West Bank.

Some nave and short-sighted PA operatives even began speaking of high percentages of growth, ignoring the fact that the growth they were talking bout was disingenuous and highly artificial since it was subject to Israeli whims and mood.

More to the point, the PA officialdom overlooked the fact that their entire fiscal policy was subservient to Israel if only because the PA had no Palestinian currency of its own and had to use the Israeli currency, the Shekel.

Fayyad, a secular-minded politician, warned against endangering PA achievements, including in the security fields, saying that Palestinians ought to seek inspiration from the Prophet of Islam.

He said he didn't conceive of sound economic policies without internalizing the prophetic values in the economic process, including social justice, just distribution of the burdens of occupation.

While Fayyad spoke elaborately about steadfastness in the face of the occupation, much of what he said didn't go beyond the realm of rhetoric.

For example, he ignored the fact that despite verbal support for Palestinian statehood by the United States and European Union, the international community remained more or less silent vis--vis the eradication by Israel of all remaining realistic prospects for the creation of viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state.

Many serious Palestinian intellectuals argued rather convincingly a few years ago against pursuing grand economic plans while the country was still completely dominated by the Israeli occupation.

They argued that in the final analysis, the Palestinians would neither obtain a prosperous economy nor achieve political freedom due to the stupid policy of placing the cart in front of the horse.

Unfortunately, PA leaders, including Mr. Fayyad, allowed their economic and financial vagaries to have a priority over political realities. They argued that one ought to look at the full half of the proverbial glass.

Again, unfortunately, numerous Palestinians gave Fayyad, et al, the benefit of the doubt, thinking that the U.S. , whose policies and politics, are tightly controlled by Jewish pressure groups, would shower the occupied territories with dollar to the point of transforming Palestine into Dubai or Qatar .

These gullible Palestinians didn't have to be economic geniuses to realize the extent of their delusions. They could only watch the nearest Israeli roadblock or checkpoint to realize that the final say pertaining to all matters in occupied Palestine didn't really belong to the PA, but to Israel .

Fayyad may not be an evil man, or a traitor, or ignoramus. But I sincerely think that he had underestimated the mendaciousness, nefariousness and maliciousness of Israel in claiming that it would grant the Palestinian people the liberty they deserve. Well, since when liberty is granted on a silver platter? Even the Americans, Israel's guardian allies, say in their folklore "give me freedom or give me death."

Moreover, there is no doubt that Mr. Fayyad had also overestimated the goodwill and resolve of the international community to put an end to decades of Nazi-like oppression meted out to the Palestinians on no account other than the fact that Jews were mistreated and persecuted in Europe and someone, somewhere had to pay the price for whatever befell them.




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