Sunday April 20th 2014

Anti-Fayyad Protests Gain Steam

by Mahmoud Abu Ghosh

Hundreds of protesters demonstrated on Wednesday in Nablus’s main square, calling for the ouster of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

A former economist for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), Fayyad was appointed by former United States President George W. Bush in June 2007 to lead the Western-backed PA.

Despite never winning any election or possessing any meaningful political base on the Palestinian street, Fayyad enjoys strong support from Western governments and controls all financial and security matters within the PA.

The protesters held up signs which read, “Go away Fayyad” and “[PA President Mahmoud] Abbas and Fayyad, your government does not represent us.”

Palestinians have been protesting over rising food and public transportation prices, and Wednesday’s protest came one day after a demonstration in Hebron, during which protesters burned a puppet made to look like Fayyad.

Demonstrations also took place in Bethlehem and Ramallah.

Fayyad said with respect to the public protest that he understood the demonstrators’ frustrations and is aware of the economic difficulties facing the Palestinian Authority. He acknowledged the high rate of unemployment and the fact that the government financial safety net is not enough to help needy families.

Fayyad pledged to work vigorously to increase social assistance to the needy, but said that the economic problems of the Palestinian Authority are mainly due to external factors, such as the rise in food prices and Israeli actions that prevents economic growth. He called on Western governments to fulfill their obligations to the PA and transfer financial assistance, reiterating a warning from several months ago that if the PA fails financially it may cease to exist..

The PA government currently faces its worst financial crisis since its 1994 establishment. The crisis has rendered the PA unable to pay employees their salaries orpay off debts it owes to private businesses.

A PA economist predicted that the PA is on the verge of collapse, warning that the later it happens, the harder it will be.