The war of salaries

Israel decided, as an immediate response, to President Abbas going to the UN Security Council and then to sign the membership application to join some international treaties, not to transfer tax revenues to the authority budget, which is considered the main income, without which the Palestinian Authority is unable to cover the salaries. This is not the first time in which Israel takes such a step and then withdraw it after a month or two where they are dealt with as a warning rather than a strategic decision knowing that this matter, if it persists, will lead power to a stage where it will not be able to function, which could lead to its collapse, and Israel, at least for now sees that there is interest to keep this power.

And when the Al-Shati agreement signing was announced in May between Fatah and Hamas, which resulted in forming a “national reconciliation” government or as large proportion of the Palestinians wish to call it the government of “national hypocrisy,” Hamas were not to accept almost whatever that is requested from them, particularly naming the ministers, if they knew that this matter will not solve the salaries of its employees, which reached the stage of not being able to provide them with the salaries of more than a year and a half, and there is no doubt that the main factor that determines the practical success or failure of reconciliation begins with solving the problem of Hamas employees. Failure to implement the reconciliation articles that have been announced in the Shati refugee camp and the inability of the unity government to exercise its powers on the ground and the lack of agreement on border crossings and what comes of it from disruption to the process of reconstruction is mainly and directly caused by not finding solutions to the problem of Hamas employees, whether in the merging process or providing a salary.

Since president Abbas became chairman of the authority for nearly ten years, and especially after he decided to remove his former ally and current foe, Mohammad Dahlan, the use of salaries as a means of punishment or deterrence or terrorism, against who dares to express their position or opinion that conflicts with a decision to be made whether this decision is legal or an illegal, immoral or unethical, or even a decision regarding or concerning the authority. According to this logic, the salary is not an acquired right of the employee, whether military or civilian, but is the sword used by the governor to consolidate his power and impose his will on the staff who are treated as slaves at his farm.

So, there is a lot of talking these days, and after what thousands in the Gaza Strip have been through, which mostly belong to the Fatah movement, there are lists that may be sent to the Palestinian Ministry of Finance of the names of dozens of cadres and members who had their salaries cut by a decision from the President of power on charges of “opposing the general politics of the State of Palestine “ or accused of lack of discipline. The formula or format isn’t important. In the end, this is a nuclear weapon, internationally forbidden for its brutality and lack of morality to be used to cut off the livelihood of people for expressing their opinion. This means that the right of each of the affected or will be affected in the future to return to all legal means available, including international institutions, donor countries and local laws, to prosecute everyone who is involved in this matter.

Using salary as a weapon by the enemies of the Palestinian people and their opponents in order to adapt them to accept positions or punishing them for positions they are taking or have taken is not new, which is understandable from the perspective of enemies of you and your national cause. This is how the United States acted after the first Gulf War when it surrounded and blockaded all the financial resources of the PLO to a stage the organisation was no longer able to provide salaries or even food for its employees and its military forces. That’s what Israel has been doing since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority for more than twenty years, where the initial and immediate act is the punishment of the Palestinian people and its leadership position when it’s angry of a specific behaviour to prevent the transfer of tax money which is the property of the Palestinian people.

But to use this weapon against each other, in the internal disagreements in the bullying process, that’s something the mind can’t imagine or accept. And whoever resorts to this method against their people have no right to blame the Israelis, accusing them of being involved in immoral acts  incompatible with the international law and could be considered as a war crime that requires bringing the perpetrators to the International Criminal Court, as described by Dr. Saeb Erekat.

If freezing the transfer of the money is not a war crime, what do we call cutting the salary of an employee because he clicked “Like” or have written an official doesn’t like, or participated in a peaceful demonstration expressing a particular decision or demanding something specific? What do we call it? Legal or moral action, or humanitarian work?

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About Nader Elkhuzundar

Nader Elkhuzundar is a commentator on Palestinian affairs and Co-founder of Beyond Compromise (www.beyondcompromise.com). Elkhuzundar occasionally freelances for The Guardian, International Business Times, and others. He's a social media enthusiast and tech savvy with particular interest in new technologies and analytics, and enjoys reading over Arabic coffee and dark chocolate.
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