Monday, July 29, 2019

FATAH: PA HAS BEGUN 'GRADUAL DISENGAGEMENT' FROM ISRAEL


The Palestinian Authority announced on Monday that all government employees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will again receive only 60% of their salaries by next week due to the ongoing financial crisis the PA is facing.

The employees have been receiving 50-60% of their salaries for the past few months. The authority says that it’s unable to pay full salaries because of Israel’s deduction of allowances paid to families of security prisoners and “martyrs” from tax and tariff revenues it collects and transfers to the PA.
The announcement was made by PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh during the weekly meeting of the Palestinian cabinet in Ramallah.

The cabinet urged Palestinian universities to charge students of family members who work in the public sector 50% of their tuition fees until the end of the current financial crisis which the PA is facing.

The cabinet also decided to pay NIS 110 million to needy families, pointing out that NIS 90 million of the amount was allocated for the Gaza Strip.

Shtayyeh said he has decided to form a legal committee consisting of several PA ministries to “document and follow up on the crime of the house demolitions” in the Wadi al-Hummus area near the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher. The findings of the committee will be brought before Palestinian courts, he added.

The prime minister affirmed his government’s full support for the families whose homes were demolished, “in the face of attempts to expel them from their land.”

Referring to last week’s decision by the Palestinian leadership to halt signed agreements with Israel, Shtayyeh said that the move “came as a response to Israel’s continuous violation of signed agreements, including piracy of Palestinian money, land confiscation and home demolitions.”

The “piracy” refers to Israel’s deduction of payments made by the PA to families of security prisoners and “martyrs” from tax and tariff revenues collected by Israel each month on behalf of the Palestinians.

Announcing the decision to halt agreements with Israel last Thursday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said that a committee would be established to devise mechanisms for implementing the decision. A senior PLO official said last weekend that the proposed committee will meet soon.

However, it was not clear by Monday whether the committee has been set up. Several Palestinian political analysts and activists expressed skepticism over Abbas’s announcement, noting that this was not the first decision of its kind. They pointed out that the PA has over the past four years announced the formation of at least seven committees to look into ending all agreements with Israel.

Moreover, some political analysts pointed out that previous decisions by key decision-making bodies, including the PLO, to suspend security coordination between the PA and Israel in the West Bank and revoke Palestinian recognition of Israel, have never materialized.

In a related development, Majed al-Fityani, secretary-general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, claimed on Monday that the PA government has launched a series of measures to gradually disengage from Israel.

He did not specify the nature of the measures, but said that they would take into consideration the interests and needs of the Palestinians.

Fityani told the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station that the government was continuing to prepare plans to end Israeli control over the resources of the Palestinians.

Contacts between the PA and Israel, he said, are being conducted “at the lowest level.” The Fatah official said that there was no point in maintaining contacts with Israel, “which is supported by the US, its partner in the occupation of our people.”

He added that the PA government was working toward ending economic relations with Israel by signing agreements with Jordan and Iraq in the fields of energy and fuel. “Economic boycott [of Israel] is an important factor at this phase and is part of a national strategy to disengage from Israel,” Fityani said.

Regarding security coordination with Israel, he said it too was at its lowest level and is only limited to the needs of Palestinians living in West Bank areas exclusively controlled by Israel. “No one can claim that there is an ordinary security relationship between Palestine and Israel,” he said.

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