Thursday, May 11, 2006

On fuel and salaries and peace

The impact of the Israeli decision to cut fuel shipments to the Palestinian territories is already unfolding.

Throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, fuel supplies are running out. The AP reports long lines forming at gas stations and rationing of what meager supplies remain.

In the West Bank, the situation was even more dire. Many stations said they were out of fuel, in some cases laying their dry nozzles on the ground.

“The only thing I've been doing for the past day is tell drivers that I don't have any gas,” said Awad Dabous, who works at a gas station in the West Bank town of Jenin.

A sign at the station said simply: “Sorry, no gas.” In Nablus, a line of taxi drivers said they had stopped working because they had no fuel. One driver, Mahmoud Tourabi, said he would try to drive to a nearby Jewish settlement in hopes of filling his tank.

“They may kill me there, so I will be the martyr of the gas,” he quipped.

Taxi drivers and others in the transport business are already being affected, and the AP also reports that the impact will soon be felt throughout the Palestinian territories, affecting almost everyone, not just government employees or members of the Hamas movement. As the AP reports,

"An end to fuel supplies could cripple hospitals, halt food deliveries and keep people home from work — a devastating scenario for an economy already ravaged by Israeli and international sanctions."

An example of what will soon happen to the health sector is,

Moaiya Hassanain, a top health ministry official in Gaza, warned that the area's hospitals, already suffering from a shortage of medicines, would cease to function without fuel.

He said ambulances would stop running, employees wouldn't be able to get to work and gas generators — used to compensate for ongoing electric outages — would be hobbled.

“It's going to be a disaster for us in the medical profession,” he said, speaking at a Gaza City gas station where he helped fill the gas tanks of several ambulances.

The Washington Post reports that a European Commission report noted that, "the key underlying factor" to the economic crisis "is the continued freeze in Israeli transfers of PA fiscal revenue and the strict Israeli policy on closures and other restrictions."

Yet the Israeli government remains adament in its stance that it will not relent on releasing fuel supplies or paying the Palestinians fuel bill out of the Palestinian funds it is seizing. The Post reports, "Israel has no intention whatsoever of punishing the Palestinian people," said Gideon Meir, a senior Foreign Ministry official. "Nor do we have any intention of giving money to the Palestinian Authority, including paying salaries."

The two are incompatable. If you don't pay the salaries, you are punishing the Palestinian people. It's not like once Hamas was elected all of the government employees became Hamas supporters. Most are actually Fatah supporters. How do you think they got government jobs in the first place?!

Here's the hard, cold truth. Israel has absolutely no intention of ever allowing anything resembling an independent Palestinian state. It wants the complete destruction of the Palestinian Authority under any government, and wants chaos and anarchy in the Palestinian territories so it can say it has no partner for peace, and can proceed as it wants to, annexing land and increasing the number of Israeli colonists in the West Bank. It wants economic and social conditions to be so bad that Palestinians will be compelled to leave what little land they have left, because for Israel, the biggest threat is the demographic threat.

It would be nice if everybody could all stop playing along with the fiction that there is a peace process, or that there is an Israeli partner for peace.


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