Friday, April 24, 2015

All is not well in the Palestinian Authority

This week, Israel learned that its citizens are among the happiest in the world (Tova Dvorin and Sarah Leah Lawent, “Israel Eleventh Happiest Country Worldwide”, Arutz Sheva, April 24, 2015). This result has shown up in the third annual World Happiness index produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), an initiative of the United Nations (“Switzerland is 'world's happiest' country in new poll”, BBC, April 24, 2015).

Of 158 countries examined, Israel ranked 11th. The US ranked 15th. The UK ranked 21st.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) was on the list, too. It didn’t do so well. It ranked 108th . Its citizens aren’t very happy (Arutz Sheva, ibid).

This wasn’t the only unsettling news for the PA this week. Apparently, the PA has much to be unhappy about.

For example, ‘Palestinian’ news has updated a story from last month about PA prospects in the face of a Netanyahu win in Israel’s March 2015 national elections (Ghassan Khatib, “Analysis: The rise of the Israeli far right and the future of the PA”, Ma’an News Agency, updated April 21, 2014). According to this analysis, those prospects aren’t very good. Netanyahu’s victory doesn’t just mean a more right-wing Israeli government to contend with. It means that, after decades of ever-more right-leaning governments, this one will prove to be the most right-leaning so far; and that won’t be good for PA prospects at the negotiating table.

Things look so bleak that PA news now runs another updated opinion essay this week that suggests that those Israeli elections, and a serious financial crisis within the PA, could provoke a potential collapse of the PA itself (Alaa Tartir, “Analysis: Surviving without the Palestinian Authority”, Ma’an news, updated April 21, 2015). This essay tries to put a positive spin on this possibility. But then, embedded in the analysis, is the statement that the PA isn’t likely to pursue any of the writer’s recommendations (ibid).

Then there’s the problem Fatah (the PA) has with its unity government partner, Hamas. After a year of unity, ‘unity’ is nowhere to be found (“One year after agreement, Palestinian reconciliation hits rock bottom”, middle east online, April 22, 2015). In fact, it’s on the brink of collapse (ibid).

Since it came to power in early June last year, the unity government has neither paid the wages of former Gaza government employees (who belong to Hamas), nor integrated them into the Palestinian Authority hierarchy that’s based in Ramallah (“Unity government won’t work without solving employee issue, insists Hamas”, middle east monitor, April 22, 2015). Hamas is fed up. It’s not happy.

Hamas has reason not to be happy. The PA uses $170 million a month to pay its own employees (Dalit Halevy, Ari Yashar, “How Much Does the PA Pay Terrorists?”, Arutz Sheva, April 24, 2015). The PA also keeps an extra 25,000 names on its monthly paylist who may not even work. They’re prisoners and ‘martyrs’ who receive payment for their terror actions against Jews (ibid). Most of these people are dead (their families collect their money), in jail or seriously injured as a result of their terrorism.  

The PA also pays an additional 30,000 workers who are listed as ‘workers in the military field’ (ibid). Hamas workers in Gaza, meanwhile, complain they aren’t being paid (middle east monitor, above).

It’s also been reported this week that Fatah now accuses Hamas of holding secret talks with Israel about creating its own mini-state with ‘temporary’ borders (Ahmed Al-Sayed, “Will Gaza go it alone?”, Al-Ahram, April 22, 2015). The deal, if true, could jeopardise the chances of statehood for the Palestinians (ibid). This especially irritates the PA because such a deal will not mention Jerusalem (as a Palestinian capital) or the future of the refugees issue (ibid). Fatah is not happy about that.

Israel is one of the happiest countries in the world. The Palestinian Authority isn’t.

If this week’s news is any indication, the PA isn’t going to get much happier any time soon. Its prospects for happiness don't seem to exist. Instead, it's prospects for woe and even war seem much greater. 

Stay tuned.



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