A preventive two-day strike of the trade union of state employees started today in the Palestinian Authority. If the government fails to fulfill its obligations to budget-supported employees, the people will go on an indefinite strike on September 2. About 165,000 people did not go to work today in Palestine. In the meantime, Israel continues to boycott Palestine conducting military operations on its territory. Arrests of Palestinian parliament and government officials continue as well. Israel wants to remove Hamas from power, but it may only exacerbate the state of affairs in Palestine and lead to the reign of chaos. Furthermore, the war between Israel and Palestine became an inspiration to Palestinian terrorists.
State employees of the Palestinian Authority plan to launch a large-scale strike if the Hamas government does not pay salary debts to them, the chairman of the trade union of state employees Bassam al-Zaqarne said yesterday. According to the official, all government employees, including teachers and medics (about 165,000 people), will participate in the strike. The government has not been paying wages to these people since March of the current year. If the Hamas government does not take any measures to meet the requirements, all public schools attended by about one million Palestinian children can be closed on September 2.
“We are not coming back to work until the government meets all our requirements. We gave the government six months to solve the problem. I think that time was more than enough,” the leader of the Palestinian trade union of state employees said.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya described the upcoming strike as “unacceptable” against the background of the extremely complicated situation in Palestine. The minister added that the delays with salary payments were not to be considered as the direct fault of the Hamas government. According to the minister, it was a consequence of external factors. The boycott, which world’s leading countries declared against Palestine, does not allow the government to pay wages to state employees. Hamas government has to use foreign investments and donations for these purposes.
As for Israel, it uses the financial factor in its political goals. Israel has cut the financial help to Palestine from tax and customs income. The situation has become absurd. Palestinian ministers had to carry cash in suitcases being unable to make bank transfers. The head of the Palestinian Foreign Affairs Ministry Mahmoud Al-Zahar returned to Gaza Strip from abroad in July of the current year and brought about 20 million dollar cash in his suitcases. Palestine’s Minister of Information Yusef Rizkah arrived in Palestine from Egypt later carrying four million dollar cash in suitcases too.
Observers believe that Israel is directly involved in national strikes and financial blockade of Palestine. The government of Israel does not intend to give its plans to restructure the Palestinian Authority after the military failure in Lebanon. That is why Israel continues conducting military operations in Palestine. On Tuesday, Israeli soldiers were scouring residential quarters of a settlement near the Israel-Gaza border. The incursion was preceded with an air raid which left five Palestinians killed. Israeli defense officials stated that the killed Palestinian were Hamas guerrillas. The action continued a series of special operations formally connected with a search for Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit.
Israeli soldiers arrested Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Naser Al Shair on Saturday night. The minister was arrested in Ramallah, the residence of the Palestinian leader. Israeli officials said that Al Shair was a member of a terrorist organization. There are over 30 Palestinian ministers and deputies held in Israeli prisons currently, including the speaker of the Palestinian parliament Abdel Aziz Duaik.
Negotiations between Hamas and Fatah on the establishment of national unity ended without any results last week on August 18. The problems appeared when Hamas officials required ministerial positions be distributed between the parties proportionately to the number of seats they took in the parliament. Radicals also demanded the prime minister post should be preserved for them. As a result, the leaders of the two parties failed to come to any agreement.
It can be seen that the two decisions – the failure to establish the national unity government and the national strike – comply with the interests of the Israeli government. It seems that Israel continues to do everything to make the Hamas government suffer a general debacle and become history. However, Palestine may plunge into deeper chaos because of such a scenario: if Hamas leaves, the power is not likely to be taken by “moderate” politicians from Fatah.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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