Palestinian protesters (370).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Facing widespread criticism over his failure to solve the economic crisis, PA President Mahmoud Abbas Sunday asked Israel to review the 1994 Paris Protocol.
Hussein Sheikh, the head of civilian affairs in the Palestinian Authority, announced that Abbas has asked him to file an official request with Israel to review the Paris Protocol to determine whether it can be changed.
The Paris Protocol is the framework establishing interim- period economic relations between Israel and the PA.
According to the agreement, Palestinian trade with other countries is handled through Israeli sea and air ports or border crossings with Jordan and Egypt.
Over the past week, Abbas has come under pressure from many Palestinians to cancel the Paris Protocol under the pretext that it imposes severe restrictions on the development of the Palestinian economy.
Sheikh said that he filed an urgent request with the Israeli authorities to review the economic agreement. He said that if Israel accepts the request, the PA would form a special committee to study the required changes.
Hassan Khreisheh, an independent legislator, said that changing the Paris Protocol has become a popular demand that the PA leadership can no longer ignore.
The PA’s request came as Palestinians continued to stage protests in various parts of the West Bank against the high cost of living.
Demonstrations took place in Nablus and Ramallah Sunday, where Palestinians chanted slogans against Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Abbas and called for their resignation.
The protesters blocked main roads in the two cities and vowed to continue demonstrating until the two PA leaders resigned.
Until now, protesters had only demanded the resignation of Fayyad.
Palestinians are also planning to hold a one-day strike of public transportation in the West Bank Monday to protest against an increase in the price of fuel and basic goods.
“This is just the beginning,” said cab driver Ahmed Samara from Ramallah. “The Palestinian Authority has failed and must go.”
Marwan Hamdan, who described himself as a Fatah activist, complained that Abbas and the PA leadership “were living on another planet.”
He added: “They have big houses and send their children to study in the US and Europe while the ordinary people don’t have money to feed their children. We are fed up with this situation.”
Palestinian journalists who attended Abbas’s press conference in Ramallah on Saturday said that the PA president’s remarks about the economic crisis reflected a state of confusion and tension.
One journalist pointed out that Abbas’s remarks came as a disappointment to many Palestinians.
“We got the feeling that President Abbas was out of touch with reality and unaware how severe the crisis is,” the journalist told The Jerusalem Post.
Another journalist said she was surprised to see how Abbas was dealing with the crisis – as if it were in another country.
“He called a press conference to announce that he would consult with friends about asking the UN to accept Palestine as a non-member at the end of the month. Is this really what Palestinians wanted to hear? Does anyone really care about the new statehood bid? How does this help solve the economic crisis?” Hanna Amireh, a senior PLO official in the West Bank, warned that the PA could lose control if the protests continued.
Noting that the crisis was severe, he urged donor countries to quickly help the PA to prevent further deterioration.