Protests in Palestine continue as PA caves in to demands

Published September 11th, 2012 - 12:52 GMT
Protestors burned effigies of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad
Protestors burned effigies of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad

Protests continued across the West Bank on Tuesday with dozens injured as Palestinian police and Israeli soldiers sought to disperse demonstrators angry over poverty, corruption and the spiraling cost of living.

Over 80 people were reported injured near Hebron after some protesters attacked a city council building, police station and an ambulance, according to medics.

Many of the injuries were caused after Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at the protesters, according to the Red Crescent which transferred dozens of injured to hospitals and treated others on site.

Earlier Monday, around dawn, protesters blocked main junctions in Hebron with burning tires.

In Nablus, activists says that 60 people were injured during clashes with police, including the town's mayor, Adli Yaish, who tried to intervene between the two sides.

Protests were more calm in Ramallah where several hundred demonstrators gathered outside the Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's office to rally against rising prices and the government's failure to pay full salaries to civil servants.

Most of those protesters were government workers or labor union activists angry over rising poverty, calling for his resignation.

The demonstration comes a day after thousands of Palestinians across the West Bank took part in a general strike by transport workers as protests spurred by a sudden rise in fuel prices entered their second week.

Fayyad has been a key target of demonstrators who are particularly angry about the spiraling cost of fuel, which has gone up from six to eight shekels (from $1.50 to $2.00) per liter in the last two months alone.

The embattled Fayyad earlier today announced cuts to fuel prices and VAT after more than a week of protests across the West Bank over the spiraling cost of living.

The price of fuel "will be returned to what it was in late August, starting tomorrow," Fayyad said in a press conference after a cabinet meeting.

"We will reduce the VAT to 15 percent, which is the minimum available to us at the moment."

Israeli security officials, fearing the downfall of the Fayyad government which is regarded as friendly to Israel, said Tuesday that the Israeli government must transfer funds immediately to Fayyad's government to prevent its collapse.

In addition to transferring “very large sums of cash,” the security officials urged the Israeli government to transfer all tax and customs fees it collects to at border terminals to the Palestinian Authority.

They also urged that a call be made to Europe and the United States to use all means at their disposal to support the Fayyad government.

Fayyad's neo-liberal economic policies have come under the spotlight, and is said to have created a dire Palestinian economic situation.

Inflation and unemployment have skyrocketed under his policies, while seemingly aiding the Israeli occupation to become more cost effective, prompting the latest outbreak of protests.

On Sunday, civil affairs minister Hussein al-Sheikh said the government had contacted Israel to request amendments to the accord that governs economic relations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The 1994 agreement, known as the Paris Protocol, governs Israel's transfers of tax revenue to the Palestinians and sets limits on the difference in fuel prices applicable in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian Authority – accused of rampant corruption – say the accord is "unfair," and accuse Israel of failing to observe certain clauses.

Activists are calling for more protests throughout the day across the West Bank by a diverse coalition of groups including labor unions and youth organizations.

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