PA 'Arab Spring' Protests Target Fayyad, Abbas
On Thursday morning, hundreds of PA Arabs blocked roads and burned tires in the Ramallah area, protesting the high price of products in the PA. The Thursday protest was the latest in a series of demonstations in PA controlled area over high prices. On Wednesday, hundreds of residents of Shechem gathered in one of the town's main squares. demanding the removal of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and PA chief Mahmous Abbas. Holding signs and shouting slogans, the protesters declared that Fayyad and Abbas did not represent them, and that they demanded a new government. Joining them were Hamas members of the PA parliament.
Protests have been taking place in PA controlled areas of Judea and Samaria, as well as in Gaza, over the past week, as PA Arabs voice a variety of complaints against high prices, government repression, and lack of access to services. At a protest in Hevron Wednesday, demonstrators burned an effigy of Fayyad, accusing him of not doing enough to stop the recent sharp rise in the price of food and fuel in the PA.
Speaking to reporters, Fayyad said that he understood the protesters, and how hard it is to make ends meet today. Fayyad said that the PA's high prices were the results of outside factors, like the world wide increase in commodity prices due to the drought in the U.S. and turbulence in the oil markets – and, of course because of the “occupation,” which Fayyad claims is stunting the PA's economic growth. Many of the countries that have pledged funds for the PA have not bothered to follow through on their promises, and Fayyad called on the donor states to fulfill their obligations. Money is especially needed to prevent the “Judaization” of Jerusalem, said Fayyad, who is highly regarded in the U.S. and Europe for his purportedly Western outlook.
Speaking at a conference in Cairo, Abbas said that the protests demanding lower prices and higher wages were justified. “The Arab Spring has begun and we support what the nations says and wants,” he said.