Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is in a real pickle these days. This is not because the Democratic National Convention ended up having to overturn its initial omission of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in its platform – though that might have felt to him like the icing on his otherwise collapsing cake.
Indeed, Fayyad has begun to bear the brunt of the disastrous Palestinian economy and the steep rise in food and gas prices. So, this week, when Palestinians took to the streets of Ramallah and other PA-controlled cities to protest high unemployment and low living conditions, they did so by demanding that he resign. Oh, and while they were at it, they burned his effigies – you know, in the “budding democracy” fashion of their brethren across the Middle East.
Well, Fayyad – who is a favorite among foreign diplomats (Israeli ones, too), on account of his modern appearance and the lip-service he pays to the economic and political values of Western societies – knows a dangerous internal situation when he sees one. He is aware, too, that Fatah officials have it in for him.
This explains why he has stated that he “takes responsibility” for his failures on the one hand, while blaming others on the other. Take a wild guess who those “others” are.
According to Jerusalem Post Palestinian Affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh, “During a meeting with Italian Foreign Mininster Giulio Terzi di SantAqata in Ramallah, Fayyad blamed the economic woes of the Palestinians on Israel. Fayyad complained that Israel was obstructing the PA government's efforts to develop Area C of the West Bank, which is exclusively under Israeli control. He said that the Palestinians were unable to control their resources in this area because of Israeli restrictions. He added that the Israeli blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip was also hindering the development of the Palestinian economy.”
This was him leading up to doing what PA leaders do best when in the presence of their European and American champions: cry victim and appeal for money. Indeed, says Abu Toameh, this is just what Fayyad had indicated in an interview on the Voice of Palestine radio station prior to his meeting with the Italian foreign minister, “that the PA was hoping Congress would approve the U.S. Administration's request for $200 million in aid to the Palestinians.”
The rest of us ought to pray that the request is denied. This is because, wherever such a bundle would be spent in the PA, not a penny of it would go to improving the lot of average Palestinians.
On the contrary, it turns out that among the highest wage earners, other than the corrupt leaders and their cronies, are Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israeli prisons for minor crimes such as mass murder. In fact, such terrorists were placed on the official PA payroll in 2003, when a law was enacted granting anyone imprisoned for fighting against “the Israeli Occupation” a monthly salary based on the severity of the offense and length of time spent behind bars. The longer the term, the higher the salary, as was reported this week on Channel 2. Just over a year ago, in 2011, the PA raised these salaries by 300%. Since then, it has spent over $4 million per month on these “salaries,” and more than $6 million per month to families of suicide bombers.
Not only that: a monthly fee is also paid to Israeli Arabs serving time for having committed acts of terrorism against Jews, or for having aided and abetted Palestinians who committed such acts.
As Palestinian Media Watch has pointed out, the PA leaders, among them Fayyad, do not award regular criminals, such as car thieves, such payments. No, the money is earmarked exclusively for Jew-killers.
It is not clear whether Fayyad will make good on his offer to step down. If I had a nickel for every time PA President Mahmoud Abbas reneged on his threat to quit, I’d be as rich as a suicide bomber.
But does it really matter?
Evidence repeatedly suggests that the honchos in Ramallah are no different from their Hamas counterparts in Gaza in terms of their ultimate aim to annihilate the Jewish state. As long as this remains the case, no democratic country in the world has any business believing there is room to negotiate with them – and certainly no reason to give them even one more dime to fund their program.
Ruthie Blum is the author of To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring,’ now available on Amazon and in bookstores in Europe and North America.