Wave of protests against the PA in the West Bank
Wave of protests against the PA in the West Bank
Written by Frederik Ohsten Tuesday, 18 September 2012
*Last week, a massive wave of protests rocked the Occupied West Bank. This
time, the protests were not aimed at Israeli oppression, but against the
corrupt leaders of the Palestinian Authority.*
Over the coming week, government employees union will undertake strike
action in the West Bank. On Tuesday, all workers will leave their offices
at 2pm and on Thursday employees will stop working at 1pm. A meeting will
be held on September 23 to discuss further potential strike action, head of
the government employees union Bassam Zakarneh told Maan News Agency.
On Sunday, September 16, the union of Palestinian teachers also announced
that classes in West Bank schools will be suspended after the third lesson
on Monday [today].
This comes after a week of mass protests and a wave of strikes that forced
the Palestinian Authority (PA) to make some concessions to the workers,
including a law setting a minimum wage for workers in both the public and
private sectors. The protests started in Ramallah and have spread to all
areas of the West Bank.
The protests have been fuelled by rising prices and an intolerable level of
unemployment. According to the World Bank, unemployment in the West Bank
stands at 21 percent. The real figure, however, is much higher.
The target of the anger is the leaders of the PA and especially Prime
Minister Salam Fayyad. The protestors are angered about the high cost of
living and the inability of the PA to pay its workers their full salaries
on time. The financial crisis facing the PA is the worst since its
inception and is especially due to a dip in the donor funding that makes up
a huge part of the Palestinian economy.
Last Monday, the transport unions staged a "general strike" to protest the
rising petrol prices. Angry protestors set light to tyres across the
occupied territory. There were no public buses, minibuses or taxis in
operation. The streets were emptied. In Hebron, protestors used heavy
boulders to block the streets. In Bethlehem, trucks were parked across
roads leading to the town centre. Similar scenes were seen in Nablus. At
the important Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem, groups of
bus and taxi drivers were on patrol to stop strike breakers.
The protestors are demanding that Fayyad resigns as Prime Minister. For the
masses of Palestinians, Mr. Fayyad has become a symbol of everything that
is wrong with the PA: blatant corruption, a friendly approach to Israeli
imperialism and servility to the imperialist institutions such as the IMF,
where Mr. Fayyad used to represent the PA. Over the years, the PA has
carried out directives from the IMF and the Wold Bank, raising prices for
basic commodities and increasing regressive taxes.
Even though that the public transport union suspended its strike action on
Thursday - due to negotiations with the PA - other unions have continued
the strikes and protests.
On Tuesday, September 11, the cabinet announced a series of economic
concessions, but most of the factions and leaders said that the measures
were insufficient. This weekend more protests took place. The concessions
are, however, a clear sign of weakness on the part of the corrupt clique
around Mr. Fayyad.
The protests have been linked with anger at the Oslo Accords and the
so-called "peace process", including the Paris economic convention that
reaffirms Israel's control over the Palestinian economy.
The PA = Policing the Arabs
Since the inception of the PA, this institution has failed in everything.
None of the promises of the past have been delivered. The Palestinians have
no more freedom than they had before. They are robbed of any dignity. The
PA is unable to deliver even basic jobs and economic growth. Its sole
"justification" lies in the fact that it acts as a policeman for Israeli
imperialism and thus is enabling the occupation.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has supported the
protests. They have correctly pointed out that the protests must be linked
to confronting the Israeli occupation and the economic foundations of the
so-called market economy. In themselves, such slogans are a step forward,
but if we consider the situation as it stands today, they actually lag
behind the mass movement. Protestors have already marched in their
thousands to demand the resignation of Fayyad and the annulment of the Oslo
Accords. The PFLP should offer a way forward instead of just stating its
agreement with the slogans on the street.
Back to Lenin
The current PFLP leadership, although supporting the mass movement of the
Palestinians, has unfortunately been remarkably silent about the mass
social protests in Israel in recent months. It is true that some of the
so-called "moderate" leaders of these protests have behaved scandalously
(such as excluding Arab speakers and so on) in order to appease so-called
Israeli "public opinion". But this is absolutely no excuse for not trying
to link the social protests among Palestinians with the social protests
Protests on both sides of the divide offer an opportunity to point out the
common class interests of Jewish and Arab workers, and can serve as an
instrument in beginning to break down the grip of Zionism over Israeli
society. Dividing Israeli society along class lines is the only way of
weakening Zionism and thus strengthening the cause of the Palestinians.
The miserable conditions that the Palestinian masses are suffering are
themselves proof of the bankruptcy of the "Oslo road". The PA's experiment
of capitalist diplomacy has failed utterly to achieve any meaningful
progress for the Palestinian people. The present protests highlight the
fact that there are class differences among the Palestinian people, as the
protests inside Israel also highlight the class divide among Israelis.
The "moderate" leaders of the Palestinians have refused to raise the class
issues and have limited themselves to begging for crumbs from the Israeli
ruling class. These same leaders have always tried to portray socialist
internationalism (i.e. a revolutionary alliance across national boundaries)
as utopian. But who are the real utopians today: the "Osloists" or the
genuine socialists who defend the idea of workers' internationalism? The
present-day Palestinian leaders have tried to go forward on the road of
capitalism, and they have utterly failed. Marxists, on the other hand,
argue for the unity of the workers across national boundaries. The protests
within the PA and within Israel both stem from the present world crisis of
capitalism. In this situation there is the potential to build workers'
unity, but for this to become real what is required is a genuine socialist
programme that can answer the needs of all workers, both Israeli and
*The Palestinian people have marvellous revolutionary and Communist
traditions. The Palestinian workers and youth of today must turn their
backs on out-dated nationalism and fruitless "moderation" proposed by their
leaders, and instead turn to the revolutionary internationalism of Lenin.
That is the only way to defeat the Zionist state and at the same time put
an end to the corrupt, degenerate monster of the PA.*
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