Tuesday, 18 September 2012

IMF issues warning as Palestinian economy slows as unrest grows

The Palestinian economy is heading for a further slowdown in growth and a spike in unemployment just as it faces a “high risk” of continuing social unrest, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The conclusions of the most recent IMF fact-finding mission make alarming reading both for Palestinian leaders and western governments amid growing concern over the viability of the Palestinian Authority and with peace talks with Israel frozen.

The past weeks have seen a sharp rise in social unrest across the West Bank, with demonstrators taking to the streets to protest against fuel price hikes, tax increases and a broader decline in living conditions. Salam Fayyad, the western-backed prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, has been the main target of protester anger and has faced calls for his resignation.

Oussama Kanaan, IMF mission chief for the West Bank and Gaza, said the PA’s problems stemmed largely from the continuing curbs on Palestinian trade imposed by Israel and by the sharp fall in donor money, especially from the Arab world. “The PA is viable, because the institutions are there. The capacity to manage the budget is there. The two things required now are for the Palestinians to have better access to external markets and – for a transitional period – more aid.” more (subscription may be required)

Qatari delegation to visit Gaza, discuss construction projects

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A delegation from Qatar will arrive in the Gaza Strip next week to discuss construction projects in the coastal enclave, a Gaza official said.

Minister of housing and public works in Gaza, Yousef Subhi al-Ghareez, said that the proposed construction projects would cost over $100 million.

A Qatari delegation headed by Muhammad Emadi will tour Gaza next week and review several projects, including the rehabilitation of main roads and other public infrastructure. more

Palestinian prisoners start one-day hunger strike in support of four hunger strikers

RAMALLAH, September 18, 2012 (WAFA) – Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails Tuesday went on a one-day hunger strike in support of four prisoners who have been on hunger strike for more than two months, according to head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC) Qaddoura Faris.

Mohammad al-Barq has been on hunger strike for 118 days, Hassan Safadi for 88 days, Ayman Sharawneh for 80 days and Samir Issawi for 60 days. All four are protesting their administrative detention without charge or trial.

Faris said Barq and Safadi are both in critical condition; Barq was transferred to a hospital on Monday in a very critical condition while Safadi is still in the hospital bed also in a very difficult condition.

Head of the PPC said an Israeli court is supposed to hold a session on Wednesday to discuss Safadi’s case, expressing hope that the court will take a stand in favor of the striking prisoners. more

PLO exec Abu Yousef: PA President Abbas to cancel Oslo accords

On Tuesday 18th September, PLO's Executive Committee member, Wasel Abu Yousef, revealed that the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed during the meeting of the Palestinian leadership, the possibility to cancel Oslo Accords (the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements), and the economic and security related agreements.

Abu Yousef told Asharq Alawsat London-based newspaper that consensus within the Palestinian leadership on this issue have been different. Upon that, the issue has been postponed to the next meeting when President Abbas returns from the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The same newspaper also revealed that this is the first time the Palestinian leadership addresses the issue of Oslo Agreement since it was signed in 1993.

The Palestinian leader, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said that cancelling the Oslo Agreement is on the negotiation table in light of, as he described, "the Israeli denial of the peace process." more