Palestinians protest in Ramallah 370.
(photo credit: Michael Omer-Man)
Palestinian activists on Tuesday vowed to continue protesting
against the high cost of living despite Palestinian Authority Prime Minister
Salam Fayyad's new measures to tackle the economic crisis.
Fatah spokesman in the West Bank held the US responsible for Monday's scenes of
anarchy and lawlessness in various parts of the West Bank. He also accused
Washington of inciting Palestinians against the PA leadership.
the measures following the weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah. The
measures include reducing the Value Added Tax to 15% and suspending a recent
price hike in the price of diesel, kerosene and gas, he said.
the government also decided to cut the salaries of top PA officials and
The measures also include cuts on expenses for a number of PA
ministries, as well as rent, travel and exchange coupons, he
Fayyad announced that PA employees will receive half of their
August salaries on Wednesday.
He blamed the current crisis on a deficit in the
PA's budget, the Hamas-Fatah power struggle, lack of Arab financial aid and the
fact that Israel continues to control 60% of the West Bank.
"Were it not
for the occupation and its measures, the Palestinian Authority would have
reached a point where it would no longer have to depend on additional foreign
aid," he said.
The PA government also decided to take take measures to prevent
"unjustified price increases" of basic goods in the West Bank, Fayyad
Fayyad said that while his government supported the people's
"absolute right to express their opinion peacefully and democratically," it
nevertheless strongly condemned scenes of chaos and attacks on private and public
The PA premier renewed his appeal to the Arab countries to
provide the Palestinians with urgent financial aid.
Shortly after the
announcement, dozens of Palestinian protesters marched in Ramallah, chanting
slogans against the PA and the Oslo Accords. The protesters also called
on the PA to stop security coordination with Israel.
prevented the protests from approaching the Mukata presidential compound,
eyewitnesses said. PA President Mahmoud Abbas is currently on a visit to
Other West Bank cities witnessed similar protests, but, unlike
Monday, no violence was reported. Palestinians said at least 50 people were
injured during clashes that erupted Monday in Hebron and Nablus, where
protesters hurled stones and bottles at PA policemen.
Although most of
the protests had been directed against Fayyad, demonstrators in some parts of
the West Bank have also begun calling for the resignation of Abbas and the
abrogation of the Oslo Accords.
Representatives of various Palestinian
factions and youth groups reacted with disappointment to Fayyad's new economic
measures, saying they were insufficient and inadequate.
Nader Yassin, one
of the organizers of the protests in Nablus, denounced Fayyad's measures as
"frustrating" and vowed to continue demonstrating against the PA prime minister.
Yassin said that Palestinians were expecting the government to reduce the price
of basic goods such as bread and sugar.
Issa Amr, a leader of the
protests in Hebron, accused Fayyad of working to "bypass" the demands of the
people. He also expressed disappointment over Fayyad's failure to cancel the
Paris Protocol, which regulates economic relations between the PA and
Another activist, Thaer Anis, said that Fayyad's measures did not
meet the demands of the protesters and vowed to continue demonstrations against
the high cost of living.
Bassam Zakarneh, head of the PA employees' union, also
voiced disappointment over Fayyad's new measures, saying they were "below the
expectations of the street."
Bassam Salhi, Secretary-General of the Palestinian
People's (Communist) Party, also described the measures as insufficient and
called on the PA to "liberate itself from agreements that restrict the national
Jamal Nazzal, a Fatah spokesman and member of its revolutionary
council, accused the US Administration of driving Palestinians toward chaos by
imposing a "financial blockade" on the PA leadership. He also accused unmade
non-governmental organizations [NGO's] of inciting Palestinians to carry out
acts of chaos and vandalism in the West Bank.
Another Fatah spokesman, Osama
Kawassmeh, said he saw a direct link between Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman's
recent attack on Abbas and the current crisis. He claimed that Israel was
exerting pressure on Abbas and the PA leadership to foil the Palestinian
struggle for independence and freedom.