Is Israel Helping PA Prepare for War?
Israel took steps this week to boost the Palestinian Authority economy by tying it more tightly to Israel’s own economy. Among other things, Israel will help build pipelines to transfer petroleum products to the PA and will use its advanced technology to monitor the flow of goods, helping the PA to enforce its tax laws.
Further steps will ease the flow of goods between Israel and PA-controlled regions in Judea and Samaria (Shomron).
Both Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad signed on the initiative. “I am certain that the arrangements concluded will help strengthen the economic base of the Palestinian Authority,” Fayyad said.
Economist Nachum Gutentag said the agreement is unlikely to hurt Israel’s economy, which is much larger than the PA’s. However, he said, it could help the PA prepare for open conflict in the future.
“Since the failure of the Intifada, Fayyad has taken the approach of, ‘build the economy peacefully, and when the day comes, if we want to detach or to fight we’ll have the infrastructure for it,’” he explained.
The agreement is likely to significantly strengthen the PA economy, he noted.
Gutentag was surprised that Israeli leaders apparently did not condition the deal on an end to Fayyad’s incitement to boycott Israeli goods. Fayyad has publicly burned Israeli products made in Judea and Samaria, and has called on others to do the same. It would have been logical to demand an end to calls to boycott Israel, he said, adding, “I would have expected our diplomats to do so, and not to give something without getting something in return.”