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  • 15:47 - 15 January 2013

The Palestinian Begging Authority

By Khalid Amayreh

The literally bankrupt Palestinian Authority (PA) has dispatched envoys to a number of Arab capitals to beg for urgent financial assistance to keep itself afloat.

The PA is facing the harshest financial crisis ever due to a host of factors, including dwindling foreign aid and Israel's refusal to transfer to PA coffers tax and customs revenue the Israeli occupation authorities levy on behalf of the Palestinians, in accordance with the hapless Paris Economic Protocol of 1994.

Moreover, taxation from local Palestinian sources in the West Bank seems to have reached an all time's low due to worsening economic conditions.

The economic crisis facing the PA has been described as the worst ever since the establishment of the self-rule regime in 1994. The crisis has assumed several bleak expressions, including inability to pay salaries for more than 150,000 employees, including more than 60,000 security personnel tasked with maintaining security coordination with Israel.

The PA has also frozen new appointments and further job-allocations pending the availability of budgets.

Last week, a visibly pessimistic Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad admitted that PA coffers were completely empty and that the self-rule government couldn't meet its obligations.

Fayyad appealed, once again, to "brotherly Arab states for help."

However, it seems that sufficient assistance is not forthcoming anytime soon. One PA official, who asked for anonymity, said that counting on foreign donors, Arab or western, was a short-term solution.

 

"Donors might help us once, twice, even ten times, but they can't be counted upon for helping us and bailing us out indefinitely. Eventually, we have to seek and find permanent solutions."

The PA officials also admitted that the root-cause of the current crisis was political rather than economic.

"We all know that the problem stems from the Israeli occupation. The Israelis control our border-crossings, our roads and our imports and exports of goods and services."

The PA official is not exaggerating the PA predicament. The PA is nearly totally under Israeli control, politically, economically and, of course, militarily. The PA can hardly do anything without Israeli permission or consent.

The PA knows this reality too well but is reluctant to tell the Palestinian people the truth for political and psychological reasons.

 

Politically, the PA wants to maintain the hope, however precarious and illusive that hope may be, for the eventuality of a Palestinian state with occupied East Jerusalem as its capital. And psychologically, because the PA is too embarrassed to be frank and honest about reality, namely that the PA is answerable and responsible to the Israeli occupation rather than to the Palestinian people.

The truth of the matter is that, as far as Israel and her guardian-ally, the United States, are concerned, the raison d'etre of the PA is to serve Israel's security and strategic interests, without receiving tangible results in return.

Serving the Palestinian goals of freedom and liberation is therefore only a secondary consideration as far as Israel is concerned.

Today, the PA is the main obstacle impeding the establishment of true Palestinian statehood. The PA is also perpetuating the status quo, including the phenomenal unrelenting expansion of Jewish settlement, on the ground that the Palestinian Authority is a national achievement that should be sustained.

But a national achievement that serves to prevent the achievement of a greater national achievement, e.g., the establishment of a true Palestinian state, is not really worth maintaining. This is what the PA leadership fails to realize.

In light, we, as Palestinians, must be honest with ourselves even to the point of admitting that maintaining the PA, at least in its current structure, is an Israeli rather than a Palestinian interest.

Some people, whose tongues function much more swiftly than their brains do, might argue that recurrent Israeli harassment of the PA is a clear proof that the latter is a national entity that is worth maintaining and consolidating.

However, the truth is that Israel wouldn't maintain the PA even for five minutes if the survival of that entity were paradoxical to Israeli interests.

As to why Israel keeps harassing, even persecuting the PA, it is amply clear that the reason for this recurrent harassment is to squeeze and blackmail the Ramallah regime for maximum political concessions, including keeping the status quo until Israel achieves its colonialist demographic goals, including rendering the Palestinian goal of building a viable state in the West Bank, unrealistic if not outright impossible.

Needless to say, Israel has already reached or is about to reach this goal. The realization by Israel of the mega settlement in Jerusalem, dubbed E-1, would undoubtedly decapitate whatever remaining chances for salvaging a Palestinian entity worthy of the name.

Therefore, and in light of existing political realities, it is quite unlikely that Israel would embark on drastic actions that would lead to the irreversible dissolution or collapse of the PA regime.

This is not to say though that Israel wouldn't keep pressuring and blackmailing the PA either by continuing to withhold Palestinian tax and customs revenue or withdrawing VIP cards from some PA officials. But it is highly unlikely that the Israeli brinkmanship policy vis-à-vis the PA regime will reach a point where the PA leadership embarks on dissolving or dismantling itself.

In the final analysis, the PA is too cowardly and so clinging to its fragile survival that it would prefer to live a life of a slavish subservience to Israel than "throw the keys" and return to the status quo ante that prevailed prior to the conclusion of the Oslo Accords.

The Palestinians do have a firm right to receive financial assistance from Arab and Muslim states. However, Arab and Muslim donors also have a right to see a certain roadmap toward eventual Palestinian political and financial independence. Otherwise, Arab and Muslim aid would militate in favor of Israeli interests.

Needless to say, begging for money from Arab states while maintaining political, economic and security subservience to Israel will never lead to financial and economic independence, let alone to liberation from Zionism or Jewish Nazism.

And even if we succeeded, under some circumstances in achieving a semblance of financial independence, this artificial independence would be short living and fleeting due to the Israeli factor. This is why freedom from Israeli colonialism must always precede state building, including establishing required institutions.

We probably shouldn't have built multi-story glass buildings, as we have done in several localities in the West Bank, when we utterly lack the ability and power to protect them from destruction at Israel's hands. Are we so stupid that we often forget that we are still under a sinister foreign military occupation? Do we trust our enemies that much? Or do we trust the international community to shield us from Israeli terror and vandalism?

I don't know why I mentioned the glass buildings in particular. Perhaps they make a metaphor epitomizing our entire faulty thinking.

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