Palestinian Protests Intensify Against Economic Policies

Article Summary
Protests against higher prices and taxes under the Palestinian Authority continue to grow, with demonstrators threatening to escalate their actions in the West Bank. Youssef al-Shaeib talks to protestors calling for a better deal.

Dozens of angry citizens closed the entry to the Manara roundabout in the center of Ramallah yesterday afternoon, preventing vehicles from driving through in protest against rising fuel and commodities prices, increased VAT and the government's economic policies.

Protesters demanded the dismissal of the Fayyad government and stressed the importance of strengthening the citizens’ endurance. Their need to make a living should not distract them from their main concern regarding opposition to the occupation. Protesters chanted loud slogans demanding the annulment of the Paris Convention and the dismissal of the government.

Released prisoner and dean of Palestinian prisoners, Fakhri al-Barghouti, who was among protesters, said: “The sit-in was organized because of the high cost of living and financial pressures that the citizens can no longer endure. Youth are protesting against the government’s policies, in addition to high prices coupled with fixed salaries that have lost their value. I call on the public to mobilize against these policies and alleviate the pain and suffering of the poor. If the public mobilizes it would force the government to respond to its citizens. However, if the turnout remains small, [Prime Minister Salam] Fayyad and his government will not meet the demands [of] those who have been treated unjustly. The street is boiling and the officials need to know that.”

Yesterday, one of the youth protesters in Ramallah — who preferred to remain anonymous — said: “We are independent youth who have come to say that we reject the economic policies of Fayyad’s government, and call on the president and the executive committee, as the leadership of the Palestinian people, to replace Fayyad’s government with a government that meets the citizens’ demands and takes their living conditions into account. We are saying 'no' to the policy of starvation and high prices ... and ‘yes' to the dismissal of Fayyad’s government, and holding the corrupt accountable regardless of their political affiliations.”

A young female protester said: “In short, we are here because the situation is very bad. In my opinion these protests will sooner or later bring about results, unless the officials do not want to listen to the people and insist on doing only what they want.”

Protesters called on all parties and factions to take part in these daily protests, which are scheduled to continue in the upcoming days and turn into protest marches starting from the Manara roundabout and heading to the cabinet headquarters on al-Maysoun street in Ramallah at the end of the work day. Other protesters talked about a potential escalation that would lead to pitching tents in front of the government building or in the center of Ramallah and the protesters may not leave until the government is dismissed.

Taxi and truck drivers continued their protests for the third consecutive day, each protesting in front of the station of his specific route from Ramallah going to villages in the governorates of Ramallah and al-Bireh and other governorates in the West Bank. Protesters have chanted slogans demanding lower fuel prices and a resolution to the crisis that does not involve raising transportation fees, which is a solution that would come at the expense of the poor.

Farah Khlailh, a supervisor managing taxis at the al-Bireh complex, said that during a protest that took place a few days ago the police forced taxi drivers to move their cars, which were parked at the entrance of the complex on al-Nahada street, in order to open the street.

He explained that the protests that took place over the past few days were organized by taxi drivers and the taxi association in the city. He noted that the drivers are organizing a number of protests in the upcoming days, adding that a decision was taken to suspend transportation to and from Ramallah on Thursday (Sept. 6) between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.

At the same time, taxi drivers protested against rising fuel and commodities prices in the suburbs of Ramallah and al-Bireh from a quarter to half an hour, amid talks about extending the protest’s duration in the coming days. 

Found in: protests, government building, dean of the palestinian prisoners, ramallah, fayyad government, fayyad, dawar al manara, al nahda street, al-bireh

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