A PALESTINIAN VIEW
Economic problems and crippled security
by Ghassan Khatib
In spite of the fact that the current upheaval
enveloping the Palestinian political regime seems to reflect a failure to
enforce law and order, there are other deep roots of the situation. The
crisis is, in fact, a repetition of other, similar crises that took place
eight months ago after the resignation of then-Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas
This predicament has both political and economic causes. The political cause
is simply a result of differences among components of the Palestinian elite
on how to respond to the possible political developments resulting from
Israel's unilateral disengagement project. The mainstream of the Palestinian
leadership is cautious vis-a-vis this project and wants to avoid
neutralizing the Gaza Strip and disengaging it from the West Bank. Others
seem to feel differently and for that reason may be trying to create
instability in order to weaken the leadership and Authority.
Because of the fragile situation caused by economic difficulties to which
the Palestinian people and Authority have been subject, creating instability
in the Palestinian Authority is relatively easy. Unemployment, which has
ranged from one-third to one-half of the Palestinian labor force during this
intifada, has increased poverty to two-thirds of the Palestinian people and
leaves the Palestinian Authority and government very vulnerable to
criticisms and complaints by the public. In addition, Israel's systematic
efforts to reoccupy the Palestinian territories, by--among other
things--crippling the Palestinian security forces in order to blame them for
not fulfilling their obligations, has also made the Palestinian Authority
fragile vis-a-vis the Palestinian people and different political groups.
Against this backdrop of weakness, which was caused intentionally by Israel,
the developments in Gaza can be better understood. In this context, it
becomes relatively easy for any group or political element to cause
instability, especially in Gaza. The Gaza kidnappings happened in the course
of Israel's attempt to pressure the Palestinian political leadership to be
more cooperative with the political proposals that it is unilaterally
The members of the Palestinian cabinet, and particularly Prime Minister
Ahmad Qurei (Abu Ala), find themselves in an awkward situation, as explained
in his letter of resignation. The first concern is the inability to deal
with the economic crisis and the public's continued blaming of the
Palestinian cabinet for not being able to solve the economic problems,
especially unemployment. What aggravates this problem is the decline in
financial support coming from Arab and international donors to the
Palestinian Authority. The second concern is the inability to enforce law
and order, and the third is the political deadlock with Israel.
In spite of the seriousness of this crisis, it is a manageable crisis that
can be contained by the different Palestinian groups and tendencies within
the framework of the Palestinian political leadership. How can we be so
sure? Simply because the Israeli offers creating these different reactions
are not generous enough to justify this internal division.
Ghassan Khatib is coeditor of bitterlemons.org and
bitterlemons-international.org. He is the Palestinian Authority minister of
labor and has been a political analyst and media contact for many years.
- Disengagement and
by Yossi Alpher
The obvious connection between the two
governmental crises is the advent of Sharon's disengagement plan.
- No longstanding
a conversation with Ephraim Sneh
For the first time, Palestinians responded in a
Zionist way: what you give, we take.
- Deep reform needed, not
a conversation with Bassam Salahi
There are many issues of corruption in addition
to the main issue of how to stop Israeli aggression and the wall.