Palestinian Authority No Longer Crying Wolf

Jonathan Cook reports on the bind that Netanyahu has created by withholding tax transfers as a reelection tactic.   

By JonathanCook

We have been here many times before. However, on this occasion even the principal actors understand that the Palestinian Authority is not crying wolf as it warns of imminent collapse.

Keen to pander to hawkish public opinion in the run-up to last month’s election, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck a severe blow against Mahmoud Abbas and his government-in-permanent-waiting.

He announced that Israel would withhold a portion of the taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians, and which it is obligated under the Oslo accords to pass on to the PA, based in the West Bank.

The money deducted is the sum the PA transfers as stipends to the families of political prisoners and those killed and maimed by the Israeli army.

This is an incendiary issue, as Netanyahu well knows, given that Palestinians view these families as having made the ultimate sacrifice in the struggle to liberate their people from brutal Israeli occupation.

Abbas cannot be seen to back down, and so has refused to accept any of the monthly tax transfers until the full sum is reinstated, amounting to nearly two-thirds of the PA’s revenues.

Given how precarious Palestinian finances are, after decades of resource theft and restrictions on development imposed by Israel, the PA is already on the brink of bankruptcy.

The problem for Netanyahu and Washington is that the PA was established – under the 25-year-old Oslo accords – to take the pressure and costs off Israel of policing the Palestinian population under occupation.

If the PA collapses, so do the Palestinian security forces that have been keeping order in the West Bank as Israel has continued to plunder Palestinian land and resources.

UN Warning

Netanyahu: In a bind. (Wikimedia Commons)

Late last month the United Nations warned that the standoff had left the PA facing “unprecedented financial, security and political challenges.” Which means that, despite his recent electoral triumph, Netanyahu is in a serious bind. He cannot be seen by his even more rightwing coalition partners to be climbing down and restoring stipends to people Israelis view simply as “terrorists.” Equally, he dares not risk a Palestinian uprising in the West Bank. That would be a real possibility if the Palestinian economy implodes and there are no Palestinian security forces to suppress the resulting wave of popular anger.

A preview of the difficulties in store was given at the start of the month, when more than 600 rockets were fired out of Gaza, threatening the cancellation of the Eurovision song contest in Israel later this month. By May 5, four Israelis were reported dead, while 20 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli airstrikes. The Palestinian fatalities included two pregnant women and a toddler.

There is also the danger, from Israel’s point of view, that if Abbas’s PA collapses, the void in the West Bank will be filled by his Hamas rivals, who run Gaza. Israel has been delighted to keep the Palestinian territories divided under feuding Fatah and Hamas leaderships.

A way out – or a change of tack – is urgently required.

Israel has tried twice to quietly make partial tax transfers to the PA’s bank account, in the hope the money would be accepted. The PA returned it.

Then, the European Union stepped in. Ostensibly an “honest broker,” it appears to be occupying a role the Trump administration has formally abandoned. The EU proposed this month that the PA accept the transfers on a “provisional basis,” until the crisis can be resolved.

PA officials were dismissive. “Let the people take to the streets,” one said. “We have our backs to the wall.” The PA line is that in the current climate, if it backtracks, Israel will simply intensify unilateral measures harming the Palestinian cause.

Jonathan Cook is a freelance journalist based in Nazareth. He blogs at Jonathan 

17 comments for “Palestinian Authority No Longer Crying Wolf

  1. Larry Larsen
    May 20, 2019 at 11:02

    If the PA implodes, Hamas isn’t going to take over the WB. Israel is.

    Full annexation. One State. Equal rights!!… THAT is Netanyahu’s predicament. The end of the charade.

    Hamas will stay out of it and let the conversation organically change from the perpetually-hoped-for-yet-eternally-just-out-of-reach “two-state solution” to a concrete acknowledgement of Israeli Apartheid/Hafrada over a subjugated and oppressed people, with the universally-accepted South Africa precedent to follow.

    That is also why the EU tried to step in. To avoid an apocalyptic scenario which would force real choices reflecting popular will and almost certainly make Israel a partisan issue in [trans]national politics in all the heretofore complacent-by-design, “Party XYZ Friends of Israel”-governed Euro/Anglo-sphere.

    Shorter version: This is THE END of business as usual for all involved in this 71-year political shell game.

  2. Robert Mayer
    May 18, 2019 at 13:28

    Tnx CN, Jonathan… IMO Huge Question re: US/Israel, stated simply… USS Liberty?!!!

  3. Joe
    May 18, 2019 at 11:21

    This is the answer to climate change: safe, non-polluting nuclear energy. This design uses the “spent” fuel from currently operating and closed nuclear plants as fuel, reducing the storage of this hazardous disaster waiting to happen situation. Also, this design would make meltdowns like Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island IMPOSSIBLE.

  4. Rafael
    May 17, 2019 at 19:36

    Unfortunately, modern Israel’s history shows us that things can only get worse for the oppressed ones.

  5. Zg
    May 17, 2019 at 17:36

    Bool$hit article, and a partisan at that. How long will Israel tolerate scum reporters like this one!?

    • Jim other
      May 18, 2019 at 14:38

      Wonder who the bullshitter is?

  6. jeff montanye
    May 17, 2019 at 17:05

    almost all of the bad things people say about israel, especially vis a vis the disenfranchised arabs in eretz israel, the “palestinians” are true in my estimation. in addition, i am convinced the likud mossad ran 9-11 with its assets/sayanim cheney, rumsfeld, silverstein, zakheim, etc. nonetheless, the future of these arabs should be as citizens of israel not as citizens of “palestine.”

    not only will the likud mossad, etc. never, ever give them any significant land, but were it to happen, as gaza, it would be a recipe for endless war, as we see. there are five million disenfranchised arabs currently living in israel. were they voting israeli citizens, israel would be about half jew, half arab and almost immediately a very different, imo much better, place, far less danger to itself, its neighbors, the u.s. and the world. and the newly enfranchised arabs would be a valued part of the only first world nation in the mideast and, at long last, its only democracy.

    • MIsh
      May 18, 2019 at 11:25

      Are you serious? What would a Hamas controlled Israel look like? Something like Iraq, Somalia, or the Sinai looks today; a haven for jihad crazy violence obsessed wackos who kill anyone who violates their authority or women who violate sharia law…..

      • D.G.
        May 19, 2019 at 22:18

        There is an issue with that statement, for HAMAS and PA officials are not the same people. Regardless, if the former were to take over, it’d be more inline with Shia society (i.e. Iran), NOT Somalia or UAE.

  7. Pablo Diablo
    May 17, 2019 at 14:55

    BDS NOW!

    May 17, 2019 at 14:51

    Stealing other peoples property ( land ) is a crime—and should be prosecuted—

  9. Hide Behind
    May 17, 2019 at 12:11

    As one old enough to remember the Northern Jew invasion in aid of, let’s call it what it was a Zionist non Orthodox Jewish minority, control over a large non centralized governed land mass, and to transform it into a goy European, British and US style vessel State.
    There was not at time of invasion a large Jew group in Europe, US or anywhere else that had enough political or economic power to influence such an invasion.
    It was the same winners of WWII ALLIED powers that were reorganizing Europe, Japan, Phillipines SE Asia, and Korea into an inter connected economic entity, a move that had no process in any of those allies nations voting to do so.
    it was purely a political continuation by Military Industrial Political systems, and their State Departments, acting under wartime powers,
    Religion was but an excuse used by them for their actions, but no real Religious groups pressured such a move.
    Who controled the world at that time, and in actuality still does today?
    Who in actuality controls the political body they organized and financed as an extenion of of those allied powers reorganizing their world dominance over economic the UN?
    To blame those of Judaism for doing no more than what hundreds of millions of impoverished peoples in nations caused by WWII, disregards historical facts.
    And all the powers outside Israel helps build the walls that will eventually put in place another Nation of economic means within what was begun at end of WWII.
    The flow of money trumps,(no pun intended screw that), Trumps, any and all religious mysticism.

  10. vinnieoh
    May 17, 2019 at 09:53

    I’ve been suspecting, and now I become more certain, that the escalation of threats against Iran were tied to the re-election of Netanyahu. This report from Mr. Cook reinforces this belief. This action by N can only incite the Palestinians to violent protest, for which Hamas will be “implicated” and regarding of the various proclamations from the ghouls on Trump’s team Iran will be blamed.

    The “neocons,” or maybe more accurately the Christo-Zionist fascists, are nothing if not audacious. Exhibit No. 1 – the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    It’s hard to escape the belief that Donald Trump is either a complete moron or a shameless liar. In an article elsewhere yesterday was repeated some statements he made (verbatim) during the 2016 campaign that after 17 years (sic) of ME wars the US has nothing to show for it but 7 trillion dollars wasted. “We got nothing – absolutely nothing.” He went on to say end the wars, bring the troops home, rebuild our infrastructure, and make America great again.

    And yet he moves our embassy to Jerusalem – provocation, recognizes Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights – provocation, endorses the continuing land theft in the West bank – provocation. You’re damned right Donald, the US got absolutely nothing after all our war-mongering, but Israel got plenty. I said he might be a shameless liar, but the truth is he is an extremely dangerous liar.

    But the US did get something; a festering, seething malaise and discontent at home, and an awakening global awareness that the US has become a violent rogue state and is not to be trusted as a partner or ally.

    What Mr. Cook reports here is part and parcel of the effort to justify an assault on Iran. Generally it goes like this: ratchet up the tensions and provocations everywhere and at once, and eventually something will snap.

  11. geeyp
    May 17, 2019 at 02:34

    Netanyahu has played with fire once too often. Thank you Jonathan Cook for this information.

  12. Ring of the Lords
    May 17, 2019 at 01:07

    “There is also the danger, from Israel’s point of view, that if Abbas’s PA collapses, the void in the West Bank will be filled by his Hamas rivals, who run Gaza.”

    Here I would’ve added: “who run Gaza since the last time the Palestinians held free elections, which Hamas won and Israel and the US refused to acknowledge, so aided Abbas and Fatah’s coup.”

    Abbas is the status quo, corrupt and easily walked over. But what’s the alternative to a slow annexation genocide? A new intifada seems the only possible chance, especially since the US and compliant lackeys are trying their best to quash the peaceful BDS movement. Resistance can be peaceful, violent, or a combination. Calling all unacceptable is tyrannical. If Europe, US “liberals” and others want a peaceful process they need to withdraw all aid to Israel and sanction the hell out of it, joining BDS. Since they obviously aren’t going to do that, then Palestinians don’t have other options other than what way they want to die or lose their families, lands, and livelihoods.

  13. David G
    May 16, 2019 at 15:19

    So the EU proposed the PA surrender to the Israeli position in exchange for a meaningless verbal fig leaf. Apparently, the EU really is taking over the US’s “honest broker” role.

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