Israel Fears Arab Spring Anarchy in PA
Israeli military and government leaders fear the new social protests in the Palestinian Authority will lead to anarchy and are seeking a rush aid package for Ramallah.
Senior security officials urgently old Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that funds should be transferred immediately to PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to prevent a collapse of the government, Israel’s Channel 2 television reported.
Violent protests have spread throughout Arab areas in Judea and Samaria, and demonstrators have demanded Fayyad’s resignation.
Israel collects tax revenues on behalf of the PA for goods transferred at checkpoints. Fayyad announced on Tuesday cuts to fuel prices and VAT. The price of fuel "will be returned to what it was in late August, starting tomorrow," Fayyad said in a press conference. "We will reduce the VAT to 15 percent, which is the minimum available to us at the moment."
The government reportedly has sent an urgent letter to the United States and European Union with requests to rush financial aid to Ramallah, according to the Maariv newspaper.
Fayyad, who earned university degrees in the United States and worked there for years, was virtually hand-picked by the Bush administration to be Abbas’ prime minister. His Western style has made him suspicious in the eyes of the Fatah party, headed by Abbas, and in the view of the Arab “street.”
The president of the Political Science Department at the University of Bir Zeit, Sameeh Hammoudeh, was quoted by the Arab news channel and website Alresalah as saying the “Fatah movement itself is stirring the public to change the government."
Thousands of Palestinian Authority Arabs flooded the streets of Hevron on Monday as a general strike halted public transport across the Palestinian Authority.
Clouds of black smoke poured into the air across the Israeli-occupied territory as furious demonstrators set light to tires, kicking off a second week of protests against the spiraling cost of living, high gasoline prices and unemployment.
Arabs, who are used to attacking Israelis because of a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, burned tires and threw rocks at Palestinian Authority police as well as at IDF soldiers, an AFP correspondent reported.
Public transport was at a complete halt throughout Judea and Samaria Arab areas as union bosses called a mass strike over the rising cost of gasoline.
PA spokesman Adnan Damiri told AFP, "We completely understand these protests, the president and the leadership's instructions were clear and affirmed the peaceful nature of these protests.
"We are not interested in clashing with the people because we don't want to complicate things, but at the same time we are seeking to maintain the peace."
Abbas has tried to deflect the social protests by putting the blame for economic woes on the Israeli government and the Paris Protocol, an economic agreement that was annexed to the Oslo Accords.