Amid ongoing economic protests in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority has asked Israel to reexamine the Paris Protocols, which regulate economic interaction between the two entities.
Hussain al-Sheikh, the PA’s civil affairs minister, told the Ma’an News Agency on Sunday that he had been asked by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to submit a letter to this effect to his Israeli counterparts and was awaiting a reply.
The PA wants to amend some of the clauses of the agreement which, signed in 1994 as part of the Oslo I accord, regulates the PA’s external trade and customs revenue collection, both of which are controlled by the Israeli authorities. The agreement also determined that the VAT throughout the PA would match Israel’s.
If Israel agreed in principle to reconsider the agreements, a panel of experts and negotiators would be assigned the job of rewriting the protocols, Sheikh said.
At rallies in Nablus and Ramallah on Sunday, protesters called for the cancellation of the bilateral agreement. The protesters, demonstrating against unemployment and price hikes in the PA, said the protocols were advantageous for Israel but made the Palestinian economy dependent on the Jewish state.
In Ramllah, dozens of Palestinian truck drivers blocked the main streets to protest rising prices and nearby, about two dozen quarry workers also held a demonstration.
In an interview with Israel Radio, Defense Ministry policy director Amos Gilad said that Israel would have to carefully weigh the request. He warned that reexamining any agreement could lead to the unraveling of others.
Sunday’s protests followed a week of demonstrations in Palestinian cities including Ramallah and Hebron, at which demonstrators have complained about economic hardships in the PA, and demanded the resignation of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Abbas said on Saturday that government employees in Ramallah would not receive full salaries this month because donor countries have not delivered promised aid.
The US and Arab countries have failed to come through this year with the aid money they have pledged, he said, leaving the PA in a budgetary shortfall. “We have no money,” said Abbas.