PA prime minister Salam Fayyad has confirmed that 50,000 Arabs have left Gaza since Hamas took over. He said many times that amount would like to go if they could.
Speaking on Tuesday at a conference in Bethlehem designed to attract investors to the PA-controlled areas, Fayyad said that "hundreds of thousands" of Arabs are seeking ways to follow the 50,000 who have already left.
Fayyad linked the exodus to the fighting between Hamas and Fatah, which resulted in the Hamas take-over of Gaza and a sharp decline in international aid to Gaza. PA sources admit that the clash has caused a great rift among the Arabs of the PA-controlled areas (Gaza, Judea, and Samaria), weakened the PA's international status, shaken internal security - and brought about increased emigration.
Conference organizer Hassan Abu Libdeh agreed: "There is a Palestinian brain drain caused by the difficulties of living here," he said.
A year ago, in May 2007, the Mufti of Jerusalem for the PA, Sheikh Muhammed Amin Hussein, issued a religious ruling banning emigration from "the land of Palestine." Hussein acknowledged in his ruling at the time that many young Arabs are flooding foreign embassies in an effort to receive residency permits.