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PA Implores Israel To Release Withheld Funds: Total Subservience - Renewed Threats To Halt Collaboration

05 February 2015

By Khalid Amayreh

The Palestinian Authority (PA) continues to hold onto its scandalous security collaboration pact with Israel despite the latter's refusal to release hundreds of millions of dollars of Palestinian customs funds and tax revenue levied by Israel.

Two months ago, Israel stopped transferring the funds to PA coffers as reprisal for the Palestinian decision to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Israeli measure has seriously hurt the PA ability to pay salaries for its employees, estimated to be over 120,000 civil servants and security personnel tasked with "maintaining security" on Israel's behalf.

It is widely believed that tax revenues, levied by Israel on behalf of the PA in accordance with the Paris Protocol of 1993, accounts for up to 70% of the PA budget, which explains the dire financial strains now facing the Ramallah regime.

As a result, millions of already impoverished Palestinian families are now facing unprecedented poverty, unable to pay for basic expenses, such as heating up their homes in the colder-than usual winter, paying for college tuitions or meeting even simpler petty tasks.

The overall crisis is also confounded by a fifty-percent unemployment rate in the West Bank (in Gaza- 70%).

Total subservience

The recurrent Israeli blackmail of the PA, which stops short of causing its financial collapse, underscores the extent to which the PA is an artificial structure lacking the most basic conditions for true statehood.

It also underscores the utter vulnerability of the PA, with its economic lifeline being almost completely dependent on Israeli goodwill.

"The PA can't move a truckload of vegetables from one town to a neighboring town without Israeli approval. So, how could the Palestinian economy grow, let alone prosper under such circumstances," argues Muhammad K. Suleiman, a development expert from Hebron.

Suleiman says the real problem facing the Palestinian economy is political.

"You just can't have a prosperous economy when you don't have control on your land and border-crossings. You can't build an economy when you are not free to export and import. In fact, the Palestinian economy is a prisoner economy just as the Palestinian people are a prisoner population."

Suleiman castigated the PLO leadership for giving the impression that the mere attraction of foreign investment would enable the Palestinian economy to grow exponentially to become like an Asian tiger.

"The idiots in Ramallah ignored, almost completely, the Israel factor. They didn't understand that in the absence of true political liberty, in other words complete independence, nothing would work.

"Today, the PA doesn't even control its own tax revenue, yet they continue to speak of a Palestinian economy that can stand on its own. This is just beyond the pale."

Renewed threats to halt collaboration

Meanwhile, the PA has reportedly renewed its threat to end its security collaboration with Israel.

According to an AP report published Sunday, Nabil Shaath, a high-ranking PLO official said, "We have told the international community that we will not be able to continue the security coordination and the Palestinian Authority itself may not be able to continue functioning if Israel continues stealing our money."

The Palestinian official said the U.S. and some other countries have asked the PA to hold off on any decision to halt security collaboration with Israel until after the Israeli elections, slated for 17 March.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the PA would collapse "without a cash injection", saying that this would have serious security implications for both Israel and the Palestinians.

The PA is unlikely though to fulfill threats to stop its security ties with Israel. In the past, the PA made such threats several times, mainly apparently for domestic Palestinian considerations. Indeed, when the Israeli occupation army murdered Fatah activist Ziad Abu Ein about three months ago, PA officials said they would halt security coordination with Israel to protest the murder.

However, eventually the PA quietly withdrew its threats and reverted to usual dealings with Israel.

Peace prospects virtually dead

The latest recurrent crisis comes in the shadow of the clinical death of the so-called peace process between Israel and the PA, which began with the Oslo Accords of 1993.

Israel, which has been in the grip of an extreme right-wing government ever since, has nearly decapitated all reasonable chances for the so-called two-state solution.

Thanks to this government, which is really controlled by Messianic Jewish settlers as well as Nazi-like Jewish nationalists, Jewish colonies have expanded so much in the West Bank that the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, especially one with East Jerusalem as its capital, has become utterly impossible.

This is met with almost total American impotence to pressure or even influence Israel; given the powerful clout American Jewish groups have on Congress.

Israelis will soon go to ballot boxes to elect a new Knesset which will produce a new coalition government.

Israeli officials are vying each other in making all sorts of fascist sloganeering against the Palestinians in the hope that this would earn them more votes within extremist Jewish voters.

For several decades, Israel has been drifting more and more toward Jewish fascism.

All indications show that religious and secular Jewish radicals will have the upper hand in the upcoming elections, which means that the next Israeli government will be even more extremist than the current government of Binyamin Netanyahu. 

Khalid Amayreh is a veteran Palestinian journalist and political commentator living in occupied Palestine



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