Social protests in the West Bank have been escalating in line with the costs of living. Thousands of people marched in the streets demanding lower prices for fuel and food.
From his presidential compound in Ramallah, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, said he understood the people’s anger and would act to help, but he said his government will not be able to pay employees their full salaries this month.
“We won’t be able to pay full salaries this month because we don’t have [enough money], because there is a siege, because there are some governments that don’t want to pay, because there are some people who decided not to pay because some want us to kneel down, but we won’t,” he said.
The most recent cause of frustration for West Bank residents has been a fuel price increase of about five per cent, in addition to a year of steadily rising food prices. In Hebron, Nablus and Bethlehem, protesters aimed their anger at Salam Fayyad, the prime minister, accusing him of following policies harmful to the poor and demanding that he resign.
But the ruling Palestinian Authority (PA) has long been complaining that delayed aid payments and restrictive Israeli economic policies are responsible for the hardship.
And Abbas has promised to revive the Palestinian bid for recognition at the United Nations. A similar bid failed last year, but Abbas told reporters on Saturday that he hopes sympathetic countries will push for the symbolic recognition of their state on September 27.
“When we go to the [UN] General Assembly, we will offer a proposal in which there will be a vote on whether we will be accepted as a non-member state in the United Nations. This will be on the 27th of this month,” Abbas said. So, just how challenging is the continuing public anger to the Palestinian Authority?
To discuss this issue, Inside Story, with presenter Teymour Nabili, is joined by guests: Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council; Naser Abdelkarim, a financial consultant and economist; and Gregg Roman, a managing partner at Praetorian consultancy specialising in political and geo-strategic issues.