Palestinian officials said the financial blockade on the Palestinian Authority (PA) was intensifying, warning of a possible collapse if the situation remained the same
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accused the current US administration of cracking down on Palestinians through the political and financial war against them, forcing them to surrender and accept the alleged deal of the century.
In a recent statement, Shtayyeh asserted that a just and comprehensive political solution is the only acceptable one for the Palestinians, which ensures their rights in an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital according to the 1967 borders.
Meanwhile, PA Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh said the financial blockade is “intensifying” against the Authority, after its decision to boycott the US administration and its rejection of the deal of the century, which Washington is forging for peace with Israel.
Sheikh, who is also a senior Fatah Central Committee member, tweeted: “they may be able to destroy us, but certainly they can not defeat us.”
Over the past three months, the financial crisis has deepened in an unprecedented way when the PA refused to receive the money Israel collects on its behalf, after Tel Aviv deducted from it.
In February, Tel Aviv began deducting about $11.5 million a month from tax revenues transferred by Israel to the Authority, and decided to proceed with that on a continuous basis during 2019, totaling to about $138 million. This amount is equal to what is paid by the Authority to the families of martyrs and prisoners in 2018.
These funds constitute the largest part of the Authority’s income, causing a major financial crisis. For months, the Authority paid its employees half of their salaries, as part of an emergency budget cut until July.
In the same context, head of the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) Azzam Shawwa reported that the Palestinian finances are on the brink of ruin after the suspension of hundreds of millions of dollars of US aid.
The mounting financial pressures on the Palestinians’ self-ruling entity have sent its debt soaring to $3 billion and led to a severe contraction in its estimated $13 billion GDP economy for the first time in years, Shawwa told Reuters.
“We are now going through a critical point.”
“What’s next, we don’t know. How we are going to pay salaries next month? How are we going to finance our obligations? How will daily life continue without liquidity in the hands of people?” said the head of the PMA, Palestine’s equivalence of a central bank.
Shawwa was on a visit to Jordan where he said “I don’t know where we are heading. This uncertainty makes it difficult to plan for tomorrow.”
The major cuts in US aid over the past year were widely seen as an attempt to pressure Palestinians back to the negotiating table after it cut off political dealings with the Donald Trump administration in 2017.
After that, Trump announced his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and intention to move the US embassy to the city despite its internationally disputed status.
The White House wants the Palestinians to engage with a long-delayed Middle East peace plan devised by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The plan’s economic component will be revealed at a conference in Bahrain next week, which the Palestinians are boycotting, citing pro-Israel bias by Washington.
Palestinians stage a protest against US decision to cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in front of Beit Hanoun border gate in Gaza City, Gaza on 4 September, 2018
Marking World Refugee Day, the Chief of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas in Exile, Maher Salah, stressed that his movement must face the conspiracies facing Palestinian refugees, a statement said.
Palestinian refugees were displaced from their homes in 1948 by Zionist gangs using systematic terror, killings, destruction and depopulation.
Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation does not recognise the Palestinian refugees in violation of international resolutions.
The Israeli occupation, in addition, continues to take measures to liquidate the Palestinian cause, in coordination with the US administration which is promoting the deal of the century which aimed to abolish the issue of the Palestinian refugees by ending UNRWA.
On the occasion of the World Refugee Day, Hamas reiterated that the issue of the Palestinian refugees the fairest cause, calling for the implementation of all international resolutions related to them.
“We will continue to confront any plan intended to liquidate the issue of the Palestinian refugees and will uphold the refugees’ rights to return and self-determination without any condition,” Salah said in the statement.
He added: “The international community along with its humanitarian organisations, especially the UNRWA, should provide health care, relief, and development to Palestine refugees.”
He continued: “We reject UNRWA’s services to Palestinian refugees be cut off or halted and oppose any bid to move the UNRWA-provided services to the hosting countries.”
Salah renewed his movement’s call to all the hosting countries to grant the Palestinian refugees all their humanitarian and social rights and lift the sanctions imposed on them, as well as back their right to return and self-determination and reject resettlement.”
The senior Hamas leader also said: “The Palestinian refugees have a right to take political action in support of the Palestinian cause and work towards ending the occupation and restoring their right of return, which should be guaranteed.”
Salah also said of refugees, that they “must have representation in the Palestinian institutions which is proportionate to their number.”
Palestinian businessman Muneeb Al-Masry has announced that 50 Palestinian businessmen will lend Palestinian Authority (PA) $150m to help it deal with the current financial crisis, Al-Wattan Voice reported on Wednesday.
Speaking to Al-Wattan Voice, Al-Masry said that 50 Palestinian businessmen from Palestine and abroad to offer the loan to the PA.
“The PA and the businessmen agreed to start transferring the money from the next months, and the money will be transferred in four instalments,” Al-Masry said.
The PA to pay 3% interest and would give priority to repay this money to the Palestinian businessmen as soon as the financial crisis was solved and the PA started to receive the tax revenues collected by Israel on its behalf.
ARAB FAMILIES WHO HAD FLED INTO JORDAN ON THE OUTBREAK OF THE WAR RETURNING TO THE WEST BANK ACROSS THE ALLENBY BRIDGE UNDER AN ISRAEL AGREEMENT WITH RED CROSS
By Edo Konrad
Mere weeks after nearly tripling the size of Israeli controlled territory in the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel enlisted teams of academics in the country to find ways to encourage Palestinians to emigrate from the newly occupied territories.
According to documents recently uncovered by by Omri Shafer Raviv, a PhD student in the Department of Jewish History at Hebrew University, in July 1967, then Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol assembled a committee of academics including prominent Israeli sociologist Shemuel Noah Eisenstadt, economist Michael Bruno, demographer Roberto Baki, and mathematician Aryeh Dvoretzky — all of them with connections to the corridors of power — and sent them into the territories to study the newly-occupied population.
The objective of the “Committee for the Development of the Administered Territories,” referred to as the “Professors Committee” was, on paper, to create a body responsible for “long-term planning” in the occupied territories. The professors, along with their teams of researchers, were sent to villages, cities, and refugee camps to interview Palestinians about their lives, needs, and desires.
The second goal, says Shafer Raviv, was to better understand the Palestinians of the occupied territories in order to find ways to ensure they did not resist the military regime Israel placed them under — and which still rules them today — while looking for ways to encourage them to leave. “Those early years set the tone for how Israeli policy looks today,” he says.
The threat of modernity
When the war came to an end, says Shafer Raviv, the Israeli government had all kinds of goals vis-à-vis the Palestinian population, chief among them was to reduce the number of them living in the occupied territories. “We saw this most prominently in Gaza, where the authorities believed they could halve the population from 400,000 to 200,000 in order to contend with the new demographic problem.”
Most of the Palestinians in Gaza were refugees, and the government wanted to dismantle their refugee camps and encourage them to leave the country and be absorbed or integrate themselves elsewhere, Shafer Raviv explains. “That’s the context for Eshkol’s decision to establish the Professors Committee.”
The first few years after the start of the occupation saw a wave of popular, mostly nonviolent resistance to the occupation, including several mass strikes. There was also armed resistance by groups like Fatah, which sought to inspire Vietcong-inspired guerilla warfare against Israel. Another of the goals the Israeli government tasked the Professors Committee with was understanding how to limit popular resistance to Israeli rule, as well the extent to which revolutionary ideas such as communism or Palestinian nationalism could flourish in the occupied territories.
The academics, says Shafer Raviv, subscribed to a theoretical framework called “modernization theory” in order to analyze their empirical findings and formulate policy recommendations. The theory, which suggests that societies transition linearly from “traditional” to “modern,” was wildly popular among social scientists in the West, but hasn’t exactly stood the test of time. Critics accuse it of being too Western-centric and fundamentally incapable of accounting for the complex internal and external changes that affect groups and societies. Those theoretical blind spots would come to affect the work of the Professors Committee.
“The researchers made a distinction between the young people in the cities who tend toward secularism and education, and who are more inclined to take part in political activities, as opposed to the older generation who was far less interested in politics, more traditional, religious, and agrarian. The former was viewed as a threat, while the non-political lifestyle of the latter was to be encouraged,” Raviv says.
While Western social scientists were using modernization theory in an attempt to modernize societies as part of the effort to stave off communism, Israeli academics and officials took an inverse approach.
“When it came to keeping a civilian population under military rule, the modernization of Palestinian society went against Israeli interests,” Raviv adds. The Israeli government wanted to keep the occupied population pacified, and they believed that more they became modernized, the greater the threat of resistance.”
Among the questions that the Israeli researchers asked Palestinians were what they had for dinner, designed to classify whether they were “modern” or “traditional.” Large family dinners, for instance, were seen as traditional, whereas smaller dinners were a sign of modernity. This had consequences. Someone deemed more “modern” might more easily be suspected of being secular, and thus more inclined to hold nationalist or revolutionary politics.
Then there were straightforward political questions, especially in refugee camps: “Do you want to relocate to a new country? Why not? What would make you want to move? What is your solution to the refugee problem?”
One researcher, a political scientist, went to the Allenby Bridge border crossing in October 1967 and interviewed Palestinians as they left for Jordan. Many Palestinians were regularly crossing between the occupied Palestinian territories and Jordan, either for work or because their families lived abroad, Raviv explains.
“He asked 500 people why they chose to leave, and those responses would later be handed over to the government so that it could better understand the reasons people were leaving,” Raviv says.
The Israeli academic, working with the permission of the Israeli army, concluded that Palestinians were leaving for Jordan for purpose of finding work or for family unification. “Under Jordanian rule, there was very little investment in the West Bank, so when the Israelis occupied it, there was simply not enough work,” Raviv says. “After the war the situation deteriorated even further in the West Bank. The Israeli government preferred to maintain high unemployment, seeing it as a good thing that would push people out to places like Jordan or Kuwait.”
Taking the experts by surprise Shafer Raviv is part of a cadre of Israeli academics who have decided to focus their research on the occupation. While the New Historians such as Benny Morris and Tom Segev uncovered details of the 1948 war and the years after Israel’s founding that directly contradicted the Zionist narrative, this new batch of researchers has focused on the Israeli regime in the occupied territories.
Raviv’s study is the first of its kind, as it uses official government documents from the 1967 war and its aftermath that have only recently been declassified by both Israel’s National Archive and the IDF Archives.
Until the 1967 war, the central issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was that of Palestinian refugees, who had been driven out of and fled from what became Israel, and whom Israel barred from returning to their homes following the 1948 war. With the end of the ’67 war, Israel found itself lording over many of those very same refugees who had fled to the West Bank and Gaza nearly 20 years earlier.
The Israeli government, says Raviv, viewed the 1967 occupation as an opportunity to solve the refugee problem on its own terms, either by encouraging the refugees leave of their own accord, or through an agreement with other Arab states. But when they began their research on the refugees, the professors discover something that surprised them: the refugees were not interested in a political solution that did not include returning to their original land.
“The researchers were under the impression that if the refugees could make a living and live comfortably in some place like Kuwait, there would be no reason for them to want to languish in a refugee camp in Gaza,” he explains. “Now the majority of refugees are telling them ‘No, we want to go back to what became Israel.’” This, of course, was a non-starter for the Israeli authorities.
The academics were further surprised to learn that the refugees had more “modern” characteristics than much of the rest of Palestinian society. “When they were forced into camps, refugees had to leave their agricultural pasts behind them, which meant that their children had no reason to learn how to work the land,” Shafer Raviv says.
Forced out of the lifestyle, customs, and agrarian economies of “village life” and into camps, the refugees had begun investing in their children’s education, as did UNRWA, the UN agency that charged with running the refugee camps. All this, Raviv says, had far-reaching consequences: the percentage of first-generation of refugees who were illiterate was around 70 percent, but that percentage dropped to nearly seven percent with the second generation raised in refugee camps.
The Professors Committee hoped to bolsterer these “modernization trends” among refugees. They believed that encouraging second generation refugees to receive an education and move to the city where they could realize their dreams would eventually lead to the dismantling of the refugee camps.
They understood that simply dismantling refugee camps and encouraging people to leave would lead to what they called “collective resistance.”
“The academics realized that to solve the refugee conflict, one cannot talk openly about solving the refugee conflict,” Raviv says. “You had to do things quietly — and what’s quieter than searching for an education or job opportunities in another country?”
The committee’s spirit lives on Some of the other recommendations of the Professors Committee were at first counter-intuitive in their aims of encouraging emigration, and reducing the numbers of Palestinians living under Israeli control.
“One of the recommendations that was adopted by the Israeli government in December 1967 was to allow anyone who wanted to leave the occupied territories the option to return,” Raviv says.
“This was revolutionary; it went against the general the Israeli view adopted in 1948 that barred the return of people who left the country,” Raviv explains. “If you tell them ahead of time that they cannot return, they will never leave in the first place, since doing so would mean disconnecting from their family and their country.”
The Professors Committee published its initial findings in September 1967, although the first leg of its research was completed by February 1968 when it handed over its conclusions to Prime Minister Eshkol and held a number of conferences with officials from the military government, says Shafer Raviv.
A document from several years later includes a list of at least 30 studies on a range of issues such as the Christian population in the occupied territories, the economy of Nablus, and the possibility of marketing Israeli goods to Lebanon, among others. Those research projects continued well into the mid-1970s, at which point the paper trail disappears.
Shafer Raviv says that although we cannot be certain that the recommendations of the Professors Committee were ever directly translated into government policy — since the authorities also took into account other considerations, such as the opinions of the Shin Bet and the army — the spirit of their research certainly impacted decision-makers.
“There is no proof that recommendations were adopted solely on the basis of what the Committee proposed,” he says. “But one can see a connection between the recommendations and the policies. A prime example of this can be seen in the government’s decision to encourage Palestinian emigration.”
Israeli soldiers abducted, on Wednesday evening, two Palestinian teenage boys, in Hebron city, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.
Media sources in Hebron said the soldiers abducted the two teens, Mohammad Ashraf Rajabi and Anas Ashraf Taha, at the Abu ar-Reesh military roadblock at the main entrance of the Old City, on the western side of the Ibrahimi Mosque.
The health of two political prisoners suffering from bowel cancer are declining; it’s claimed by rights groups that their lives are in danger and that they are suffering medical neglect on the part of Israeli occupation prison authorities. SAMI ABU DIAK 36-year-old Sami Abu Diak has been imprisoned by Israeli occupation since he was a teenager in 2002. He was sentenced to three life sentences and 30 years by Israeli occupation military court. Abu Diak was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2015. He has gone through four surgeries and part of his intestines have been removed. He has also suffered from lung failure before the current crisis in his health and ‘a medical error’ is alleged to have caused him ‘serious complications’. Abu Diak is suffering, beyond cancer, from kidney failure, renal failure and skin poisoning. Beyond this has been claimed to partly be him being transported to and from hospitals in prison vehicles, not in ambulances or other vehicles appropriate transporting ill prisoners. According Palestinian Prisoners’ Society he has been denied some of the needed medical care and petitions to allow him to be treated in Palestinian or foreign hospitals (which would demand his release) has been denied. Sami Abu Diak is from the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. MU’TASIM RADDAD Mu’tasim Taleb Dawoud Raddad was arrested by Israeli occupation in 2006 and was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Israeli occupation military court. According to different sources, he is either 35- or 37-years-old. Raddad has suffered beyond cancer, which was diagnosed in 2008, from anemia, ashtma, chronic shoulder and joint pain, skin and bone issues and he has also problems with his eyesight. Part of his intestines has been removed as a result of the bowel cancer, but the surgery which was originally promised in 2010 was delayed by several years on the basis of a claim by Israeli occupation authorities that ‘more severe cases’ should be dealt before him. Already in 2013 his condition was describes as ‘very critical’. Now he also suffers from intestinal bleeding which is causing low and irregular blood levels, and his immune system ‘is also very weak’. As a result of his cronic pain he also has insomnia. Mu’tasim Raddad is from the town of Seida in the Tulkarem district of the occupied West Bank.