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PA launches 5-year National Policy Agenda amid mixed reactions

Feb. 28, 2017 5:30 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 28, 2017 7:04 P.M.)
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (AFP/ Abbas Momani, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Authority (PA) has launched a new National Policy Agenda (NPA) for the next five years, which has been received with mixed reactions over its feasibility in spite of Israeli policies.

The office of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah shared in a statement on Monday an official video summarizing the goals of the NPA from 2017 and 2022.

“This national plan strives to provide direction and reinforce resilience as we advance along the inevitable path to a free independent and prosperous state of Palestine,” Hamdallah was quoted as saying.

“We will make every effort to advance independence and statehood. Ultimately, success can only be declared when occupation ends and independence is achieved; however we will provide the best possible service to our citizens.”

The plan seeks to achieve ambitious goals such as Palestinian national unity, economic independence, social justice and rule of law, and the end of the occupation and realization of Palestinian independence. It remained unclear whether the plan actually sought to achieve Palestinian independence within the span of five years

At a conference launching the NPA last Wednesday, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov hailed the plan as “smart governance” which was “finalizing an ambitious policy agenda for Palestine that articulates a strong, clear vision for the Palestinian people.”

“This is a step in the right direction that tangibly demonstrates the Palestinian commitment to advancing the two-state solution,” Mladenov added.

However, the NPA has been criticized by some as unlikely to be fully implemented due to the considerable barriers created by the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territory and Israel’s control of Palestinian borders and resources.

The limitations were acknowledged by the Palestinian prime minister himself, as official Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted Hamdallah as saying at Wednesday’s event that Palestinians would see a $3.5 billion surge in income if only Israel allowed the PA to have full access to Area C, the 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli military control.

A report released by the World Bank in September had also said that the Palestinian economy remained “worrying” as growth stagnation, delays in aid delivery, and Israeli restrictions continued to seriously impede improvements to the financial situation.

Meanwhile, the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) forecast sluggish economic growth in 2017, attributing the dire condition of the Palestinian economy to political and geographic divisions between the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the continued siege of Gaza, Israeli measures in the occupied territory and their “adverse impact on investor confidence,” as well as a sluggish private sector.

Middle East Monitor writer Ramona Wadi panned the NPA on Thursday as “another facade depicting the illusion of progress while barely concealing the festering frustration of Palestinians.”

Meanwhile, the prospects of achieving national unity and “upholding democratic principles” across the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the besieged Gaza Strip appeared dim on Tuesday, as the PA announced that it would hold upcoming municipal elections in the West Bank only after Hamas refused to participate in Gaza.

Hamas, the de facto ruling party of Gaza, along with the Islamic Jihad movement, had rejected the electoral timeline, saying that elections should only take place after the more than decade-long rivalry between Hamas and Fatah came to an end and reconciliation was achieved.
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