Jerusalem – Sona Adeek
Palestinians are calling for their government to resign in protest at the rising cost of living and non payment of wages to public sector workers. Last week staff of a public transport company
was joined by hundreds of youth as they staged a protest against the non-payment of wages and rising cost of fuel. The demonstration led to crowds calling for the Prime Minister Dr Salam Fayyad’s immediate resignation. Later protestors force closed main roads leading to Ramallah in the West Bank.
Opposition to Prime Minister Dr Fayyad is mounting as the country faces one of its worse economic situations. However, according to analysts, Fayyad’s government’s hands are tied. This is because the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has signed the Oslo Agreement with Israel and Paris Economic Agreement.
To this effect, prices are compared to costs in Israel. For instance, the Palestinian government cannot reduce fuel prices by any more than 15 percent of the equivalent price in Israel.
Writer and political analyst Jihad Harb described the protests as "Justified in principle; as they are the result of the increasing prices that people no longer can afford."
Harb believes that the Palestinian government will never be able to solve the problem because of its links with the Oslo and Paris Economic Agreement.
Majid Sabih, another economic analyst, added: "Fayyad's government is now facing the task of convincing its people that it will be able to improve the economic condition. But I believe that the trust between the government and the citizens has already begun to crack."
Rami Nassar, a protestor, said: “People are angry about the government’s policy as this has overloaded them with debt and many cases people are considering immigration.
He adds, "We want to overthrow this government and severe our links with the Paris Economic Agreement. We do not want to submit to the Israeli government and we want prices to return to what they were before 2006."
Fayyad has appeared on national television to assure people that public sector wages will be paid and he is doing all he can to mitigate the impact of the increasing prices in Palestine, which, he says, is a reflection of the global markets.
The Prime Minister said: “ When there is a financial difficulty arising from a change concerning supply and prices in the global markets, there is no inadequate intervention tools that can be easily used, even by governments of countries that do not suffer from the difficult condition that faces the Palestinian National Authority. Most notably that the authority is working under the occupation. In the Palestinian reality, the situation is much more difficult than it is in any other region of the world, and especially because of the financial crisis. "
Fayyad added, "I do not say this to confirm that there is nothing to be done at all, but to put them in their proper context. Although some still doubt that the authority faces a financial crisis, even now they still say that it was decided not to pay the wages in order to send a particular message to certain parties in one way or another. At the beginning, I understood this a bit, but after it became clear and the authority stumbled in fulfilling its obligations in the different areas, and recently including wages. I do not think that anyone who views things with any degree of objectivity can conclude that the wages are held by a decision, especially concerning wages. We immediately pay wages as soon as there is revenue and the process is automatic.