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Fayyad 'ready to resign'
Published Thursday 06/09/2012 (updated) 13/09/2012 12:37
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A Palestinian protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask gestures as he
stands near a burning effigy of Salam Fayyad during a demonstration
against the high cost of living, in the West Bank city of Hebron on
Sept. 4, 2012. (Reuters/Mussa Qawasma)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Thursday announced he would resign if that was the will of the people, amid growing protests across the West Bank over the rising cost of living.

Palestinians have taken to the streets for three days in mass demonstrations against price rises and unemployment, and protesters in cities across the West Bank have called for Fayyad's resignation. In Hebron on Tuesday, protesters burned an effigy of the premier.

Fayyad told Voice of Palestine radio that replacing figures in the government was not the solution to the financial crisis, but that a new economic strategy was needed.

The premier said he could not set a date for paying government workers their August salaries because the Palestinian Authority was waiting on donor funds to arrive.

Fayyad also said the Palestinian Authority needed to be restructured on a democratic basis to address political and economic crises.

The PA is waiting for the US Congress to approve a request by President Barack Obama's administration to pay $200 million to the Ramallah-based government. A hoped-for $1.1 billion in 2011 reached only $750 million, as pledges from Gulf states in particular fell short.

The revenue received from Gaza has dropped from 28 percent to 4 percent of the Palestinian Authority's budget since Hamas took over the coastal enclave. Meanwhile, 48 percent of the PA's budget is spent on the Gaza Strip, Fayyad said.

Between the national division and Israel's occupation, the PA cannot cope with the rising prices of imports.

The government is subsidizing fuel to assuage price increases, but a 5 percent hike in the price of fuel has angered transport workers. Bus, taxi and lorry drivers have protested and held strikes across the West Bank in response to the price increase.

Fayyad said the PA could not scale back the increase without diminishing the government's ability to pay salaries.

The premier called on the private sector and importers to reduce their profits to lesson the economic burden on citizens. He added that the PA had been in talks with Libya and Gulf states to create job opportunities for young people.

Israeli restrictions

Earlier Thursday at a meeting in Ramallah with his Italian counterpart Giulio Terzi, Fayyad said the PA's economic growth was hindered by Israeli restrictions.

Fayyad said Israel paralyzed economic development in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control.

Israel frequently demolishes development projects in Area C, and has not implemented provisions in the Paris Protocol of 1994 to allow Palestinians access to Israeli markets. Israel's control of the West Bank's borders hinders the export market, and restrictions on imports limit domestic industries.

Israel has serially withheld the payments import duties as punishment for past Palestinian political maneuvers, such as negotiations with Hamas or UN statehood initiatives.

While Fayyad has been lauded abroad for his efforts to combat corruption in the PA, he has faced the brunt of people's anger at the rising costs of basic commodities and growing unemployment.

Fayyad helped preside over economic policy as finance minister until being replaced earlier this year.

In the third day of mass protests across the West Bank, Palestinians marched through Jenin demanding Fayyad's resignation and calling on the PA to set a minimum wage, create jobs for the unemployed and lower university fees.

Union leaders addressed the crowds and said they would not remain silent amid rising prices, growing unemployment and lack of welfare which they said had led to an economic "tsunami."

Taxis and buses blocked roads in the northern West Bank city. Taxi drivers, angry at a five percent hike in fuel prices, organized a mass strike across the West Bank on Thursday causing traffic jams through the morning rush hour.

In Tulkarem, protesters marched with donkeys to show that fuel had made conventional transport unaffordable as the taxi strike shut down traffic in the city. They chanted "Salam, leave, the people want Fayyad to step down."

Reuters contributed to this report.
1 ) Tibi / Tubas
06/09/2012 20:52
1- Fayyad should be 'ready to resign', but NOT just him, and
2- it almost certainly is the people's will that he and all of Fatah/PLO resign with him, due to the state of affairs in their state, but
3- Can anyone do any better, under the existing situation - Probably NOT.
4- We need to move to having a real state, rather than the existing situation of semi-autonomous regions of Gaza & Areas A/B, and that requires NEGOTIATIONS, even if it must be during settlement expansion !!!!

2 ) Brian COhen / Israel
06/09/2012 21:01
Unfortunately, the "will of the people" means elections, and there is no sign of Palestinian elections happening. Ever. Hamas rejects elections. Fatah is too weak for elections.

3 ) Charlie / USA
06/09/2012 21:11
To My Palestinian People: Stop beating around the bush!!! You are frustrated, I know and you have every right to be. You're problem is not Salam Fayyad, he is only a symptom. The problem is Mahmud Abbas and the entire PA. It should be completely dismantled. OSLO needs to be shredded. Next, STOP ACCEPTING AID FROM EU AND USA. I DON'T CARE IF YOU STARVE. DON"T TAKE THAT POISON. Dismantle the PA, form a unified resistance council that will organize all the actions that needed to end the occupation

4 ) KAGH / US
06/09/2012 21:17
hate to say this but Palestinians are experiencing the same as people everywhere are in the way of rising prices, as to Fayyad who will do better and how will that happen? If I had a choice in this I would put Fayyad in charge of the PLO, show a friendly face to the donor states and the 'West' and Marwan Barghouthi in charge of PA show Israel some spine, but as things stand the occupation not Fayyad is causing the desperate financial situation in Palestine

5 ) Pal / Palestine
07/09/2012 02:09

6 ) Julie / USA
07/09/2012 02:19
#1 - no it doesn't, it only requires UNGA approval. nice try, but give up your failed ploy to appear as if you comprehend...you don't.

7 ) Jane / PA
07/09/2012 08:39
Agree with Charlie. The problem is Mahmoud Abbas and PA there Al Fatah’s dominated as well the enormous security service that control the people. The demonstrations have started against high prices but with help the security apparatus and member of the biggest movement it is seam that is against Salam Fayyad. Who has created Oslo, who has behind the corruption? Start to think my Palestinian people.

8 ) ian / australia
07/09/2012 09:58
You're right Brian, Palestinians do seem to struggle with democracy…but give them time, afterall they're busy being occupied (and blockaded) and they ARE from the Middle East which means they're relatively new to it and haven't had much experience…unlike Israel, which is basically a European country populated by Europeans who have had a lot more practice.

9 ) gabi / australia
07/09/2012 10:20
Brian Cohen - isn't it marvellous? When the Palestinians had elections in Gaza and elected Hamas people like you screamed about it. Now you want the West Bank to have elections - why? If they elect someone you don't like, you'll scream again. You say there should be elections but what you really mean is "only if they elect someone we approve of." And Fatah would not be so weak if Israel hadn't completely emasculated it, doing what you did to Arafat - completely demonising anyone you don't like

10 ) Michael / Palestine
07/09/2012 12:36
Agree completely with Charlie. The PA will never be able to govern properly under the current situation; their hands are tied by the Israelis and by the donors. They should disband immediately and a popular committee against the occupation should be formed. UNRWA should also be dissolved; why should the international taxpayer have to foot a bill that the Israelis are responsible for? Let's stop this window dressing and show the world the clear face of apartheid.

11 ) Angelina / Palestine
07/09/2012 13:09
I don't think the solution is to git rid of Dr. Fayyad or Abbas, it won't make a difference, the next prime minister will face the same problems, and Palestinians will demand him to resign as will, it's a whirl and we're not going anywhere with these demonstrations. My Opinion is that the real problem is in the citizens, they are not cooperating... I know the financial situation of the Palestinian family is bad, but Palestinians are not managing they're income in the right way

12 ) Angelina / Palestine
07/09/2012 13:12
they are buying Products from Israel, which by the way is more expensive than the local products. Not to forget that people really spent a lot last two or three weeks because of the Eid and Ramadan. Unfortunately the money was also spent in Israel not Palestine

13 ) Joseph / Palestine
07/09/2012 14:24
This is a pressure from USA regime and Nazi-Zionist-Jews in order not to let Abbas from asking a Palestinian State in UN. Where, later on, Abbas can charge the Nazi-Zionist-Jews for war crimes committed here in Land of Palestine.

14 ) @ Julie-6 / USA too
07/09/2012 19:10
What "only requires UNGA approval" is "having a real state" that only exists at the UN in Washington DC, USA, and "the existing situation of semi-autonomous regions of Gaza & Areas A/B" will remain as they are now, without negotiations !!!

15 ) @ Julie-6 / Reality vs Paper State
07/09/2012 21:50
A UNGA approval will recreate a "Paper State", that already exists, with "Palestine" being little more than a 9-letter word on UN stationary !!

And, without negotiated and signed Israeli agreements,
this paper state will NOT have sovereignty, borders, or an economy strong enough to sustain itself or the people without endless donations,
that are already coming to a gradual end, which is causing the present financial hardships in the first place !!
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