First Published: 2013-01-27

 

Palestinians adopt state symbols as they wrestle with budgetary blues

 

In wake of UN status upgrade, Palestinians are busy printing State of Palestine letterheads, stamps, but they have never been less able to pay bills.

 

Middle East Online

By Hossam Ezzedine – RAMALLAH (Palestinian Territories)

Long battle to move from concept to practice

In the wake of a UN status upgrade last year, the Palestinians are busy printing State of Palestine letterheads and stamps, but they have never been less able to pay their bills.

Last November 29, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas smiled broadly as the UN General Assembly took the historic vote that upgraded the Palestinians to non-member observer state, but the move has had costly consequences.

It was opposed by both the United States and Israel, with the latter opting to suspend its monthly transfers of tax and tariff revenue collected for the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the wake of the decision.

That has plunged the PA's finances -- shaky at the best of times -- into chaos, forcing prime minister Salam Fayyad to beg Arab nations to make up the shortfall by activating a "safety net" worth $100 million a month.

The money was intended to ensure the PA could continue to pay its thousands of employees' salaries, which make up a large part of the $240 million a month the government needs to stay on top of its obligations.

But the promised money has not been forthcoming. Last week, Saudi Arabia announced it would chip in $100 million (75 million euros) in a one-time donation, but other Arab countries have not come forward.

The situation has created tension on the ground. PA employees are still owed half their November salaries and all of their December pay.

On January 13, the Arab League announced it would dispatch a delegation headed by its secretary general Nabil al-Arabi and accompanied by Fayyad to try to drum up more of the promised "safety net" from Arab donors.

"When the Palestine Liberation Organisation announced that it would go ahead with seeking observer state status, the battle intensified with the United States and Arab donor aid to the PA declined," political analyst Abdelmajid Suleim said.

"The only explanation for the financial crisis is that the Palestinian people and its leaders are paying the price for disobedience to Washington," he added.

Economist Nasser Abdel Karim lays some of the blame on the Palestinian leadership, pointing out that financial sanctions from Israel and Washington had been expected after the UN bid.

"The Palestinian government expected economic difficulties due to the decision to go to the UN, but it did nothing to prepare," he said.

Despite the budgetary blues, Abbas this month gave orders for work to begin on new passports, ID cards and driving licences reading "State of Palestine."

Deputy interior minister Hassan Alawi said that there were practical barriers to putting such orders into practice.

"We're still under occupation," he said. "We have the ability to deliver a Palestinian passport, but the Israeli side will not accept their use."

The PA is also taking the battle to its foreign representations, with foreign minister Riad al-Malki saying that all official correspondence will now carry a "State of Palestine" letterhead.

And telecommunications minister Safaa Nasreddine announced the launching of the first "State of Palestine" stamp, which will be distributed to Palestinian embassies and representative offices.

In a statement, Nasreddine predicted "a long battle with the Israeli side to translate into reality Palestine's upgrade to the rank of state at the UN."

The first State of Palestine stamps will be printed in Bahrain, but similar ones for local use are not expected in the short term, the minister said.

"Israeli permission is unfortunately necessary, before and after their printing," she said.

 

Iran forces inside Iraq as Abadi rules out foreign ground intervention!

Qaeda inflicts heavy losses on Huthi rebels in central Yemen

Kerry seeks help of Southeast Asia in anti-Islamic State push

Turkey gives Iraq Peshmerga forces passage to Kobane

Cultural heartland of Al Ain hosts night of Emirati musical heritage

South Sudan rivals meet in new bid to end civil war

From Morocco into Spain: Crowd of African migrants charges to border fence

Deadly suicide attack targets Shiite mosque in central Baghdad

Israel to supply Egypt with natural gas despite sabotage

US carries out first weapon airdrops to Kurd fighters near Kobane

Benghazi violence kills 75 people in five days

Morocco accuses Algeria of firing on civilians across border

Australia finalises deal for deployment of Special Forces to Iraq

Tunisia calls on Libya authorities to locate missing journalists

Turkey rejects calls to arm ‘terrorist’ Kurdish party in Syria

Western powers threaten sanctions against hostile actors in Libya

New deadly terrorist attack targets Egypt army in Sinai

‘Islamic State’ suffers heavy losses in Syria battleground of Kobane

After full formation of Iraq government, time comes to visit Iran

UN appeals for four-day truce in Western Libya

Gaza tunnel collapses before demolition: At least 3 Egypt soldiers dead

Erdogan begins one-day visit to Afghanistan

After weeks of delay, Iraq gets new security ministers

Diplomats scold Turkey over ambiguous relation with Islamic State

Lebanon pleads for Iran military aid to fight Islamic State

Kurds repulse new jihadist attempt to cut off Syria town

Huthi rebels meet fierce resistance in Yemen Sunni areas

Former Iraqi pilots train IS to fly Syria fighter jets

Two Millstones Drowning America into Premature Oblivion

Iraqi forces launch anti-IS operation north of Tikrit

Ben Ali cohorts planning comeback in Tunisia polls

Battle for Libya's Benghazi heats up

Kurdish fighters still holding out in Syria's Kobane

Russia denies agreed with US on IS intelligence-sharing

Saudi’s National Commercial Bank to offer $3.6 billion IPO

Qaeda counters advancing rebels with Yemen town seizure

Iran warns Saudi cleric death sentence could escalate tensions

No breakthrough in US-Iran intense nuclear talks

Kuwait ends decades of diesel, kerosene subsidies

US airstrikes ‘push back’ IS in Kobane

New desperate attempt to reach Europe: Hundreds storm Morocco-Spain border

Turkey Kurdish party plans talks with armed PKK rebels in Iraq

Iraq beats back ‘Islamic State’ assault on Ramadi

Saudi court sentences Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr to death

Iran nuclear talks: Search for elusive breakthrough begins