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Nablus demonstrators protest high cost of living

June 1, 2013 9:11 P.M. (Updated: June 8, 2013 6:03 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Palestinians took to the streets in Nablus on Saturday to protest the high cost of living and demand the cancellation of the Paris Protocol signed in 1994.

Protesters called on the Palestinian Authority to reduce the cost of essential commodities, urging PA officials to raise salaries and not the price of basic goods.

Earlier this week, protesters marched against high prices and unemployment in Duheisha refugee camp, Bethlehem, calling on the PA to lower prices so people can meet their everyday needs.

The PA announced last week that it would raise VAT by 1 percent starting in June. Head of taxes and VAT Ahmad Al-Hilo told Ma'an that the raise will lead to an increase of 1 percent in overall prices. The rise puts the overall tax rate on goods at 16 percent.

Al-Hilo told Ma'an that authorities were forced to raise the VAT because Israel raised it to 18 percent and, according to the Paris economic agreement, the difference between the Palestinian Authority and Israel should not be more than 2 percent.

The Paris Protocol was signed in 1994 as an annex to the Oslo Accords that established the interim Palestinian government.

The Protocol gave Israel sole control over Palestine's external trade, and collection of customs duties, allowing the state to serially hold back this revenue as punishment for Palestinian political measures, such as the bid for UN membership.

Frustrated by rising prices and high levels of unemployment, Palestinians took to the streets in September last year to protest the dire economic outlook.

Protesters chanted against the Oslo peace accords and some set fire to copies of the Paris Protocol.
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