PA Government Workers Go on Strike
Employees of the Palestinian Authority government across Judea and Samaria were on strike on Wednesday over unpaid salaries, with the protest expected to continue into Thursday, AFP reported.
Thousands of staff at ministries, schools and health facilities failed to show up for work to protest against the non-payment of their November salaries.
"This was a full strike today," Bassem Zakarneh, spokesman for the Palestinian government workers union, told AFP, adding that it would continue on Thursday.
As usual, however, the workers did not directly target the government but rather Israel, over its decision to withhold tax and tariff revenues it collects on the PA's behalf.
The strike "is to protest against Israeli piracy and theft of our money, which put one million Palestinians under the poverty line," Zakarneh said, calling on the government "to stand with the workers."
Sources in the PA's education ministry said they were looking at a proposal to start the school winter break early because of a shortage of teachers due to the strike.
The PA currently faces its worst economic crisis since its founding, and its Prime Minister Salam Fayyad warned several months ago that the entity may soon fail financially and cease to exist.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund warned in September that the PA faces a $400 million budget shortfall and risks “social upheaval.”
Recent protests over the economy in the PA prompted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to order the transfer of a 250 million shekel advance to the PA from tax revenues collected by Israel, but the transfer of the tax funds was frozen in response to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s recent unilateral move at the United Nations.
Last week, representatives of the Arab League who met in Qatar’s capital Doha pledged to transfer a monthly sum of 100 million dollars to “the state of Palestine”. The money is meant to give the PA government a “financial safety net.”
Fayyad urged Arab League nations on Sunday to make good on the money they pledged, warning that his government was facing a "dangerous" financial crisis.