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West Bank Palestinians strike as Israeli sanctions bite
Published Wednesday 19/12/2012 (updated) 21/12/2012 09:47
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File photo of economic protests in September (MaanImages/File)
RAMALLAH (Reuters) -- Palestinian government employees in the West Bank began a two-day general strike on Wednesday to protest against a delay in the payment of their wages because of Israeli economic sanctions.

Israel is withholding some $100 million in monthly customs revenues it collects on the Palestinians' behalf as punishment for their successful bid at the UN General Assembly last month to gain de-facto statehood recognition.

The Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, was experiencing a deep financial crisis even before the move, and its 153,000 public sector workers have seen their salaries repeatedly issued late this year.

Around 50,000 workers took part in Wednesday's stoppage. West Bank security forces, a pillar of security and cooperation with Israel, and staff in the Gaza Strip did not participate.

"This strike is against Israel's piracy," said Bassam Zakarneh, chief of the government employees' union said.

"The situation is very grave, and the services to the people are much reduced by the strike," he said. "(People) can't even afford transportation to their workplaces."

Government workers last received salaries for October, which were paid belatedly at the end of last month. There was no word on when November or December wages might be handed over.

Israel said the Palestinian UN initiative contravened their peace accords and has threatened to withhold tax returns for four months to cover outstanding Palestinian debts with Israeli utility firms.

Strikes and protests over austerity measures turned violent in September. Demonstrators pelted security forces with rocks and called for the ousting of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas.

Wednesday's action appeared much more subdued and there were no public protests, with Palestinians blaming Israel rather than their own government for their current economic woes.

"This puts about a million citizens in Palestine in the cycle of poverty," said Fayyad, speaking of the Israeli sanctions. "We're talking about doubling the rate of poverty in Palestine during a maximum period of two months from today if the situation continues as it is," he told Reuters on Monday.

Arab countries have yet to fulfill pledges to offset the Israeli measures with cash donations
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1 ) Paper State / Real State
19/12/2012 15:07
A recent poll shows that 70% of Palestinians support No Talks with Israel,
during West Bank construction, so Palestine will remain a "Paper State"
(existing really on the stationary of the UNGA only) until that changes.

And, "Israel withholding monthly customs revenues" may be to process,
by which Palestinians start to support Talks with Israel, regardless of construction, so that Palestine could eventually become a Real State !!

2 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
19/12/2012 15:08
Only one solution - return to peace negotiations and sign a treaty with Israel. The longer you wait for "reconciliation" with Hamas, the more you lose. Palestinians have to decide if they want Fatah and peace with Israel, or Hamas and war with Israel. Remember - Hamas rejects peace and says its goal is war. I don't think what my government is doing is right, but then again, what is the PA doing for peace? Nothing that we can see.

3 ) I thought it was meant to / hurt the Israelis
19/12/2012 18:04
Is this what you call BDS ?

4 ) Stan / USA
19/12/2012 22:49
The Palestinians owe hundreds of millions of dollars to the Israeli power company; Should Israel cut off the electricity to the West Bank or withhold the tax revenues to pay the bill? The Palestinians decided to play hard ball with the U.N. stunt. The Israelis said okay, lets play. At any point in time Abbas can say "enough" and come to the negotiating table.

5 ) @ Stan-4 / Political Suicide
20/12/2012 16:12
Though true, that "Abbas can say come to the negotiating table", but with 70% of Palestinians NOT supporting Talks with Israel, during settlement construction, it would be Certain Political (possibly personally too) Suicide !!

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