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Today’s Top Stories
1. Palestinians continue protesting across the West Bank. Mahmoud Abbas declares himself with the Palestinian Spring movement. Abbas is probably eyeing to oust Salaam Fayyad, but as the Times of Israel points out, the petty political posturing may not satisfy the Palestinian street.
Short on promised foreign donations, 154,000 PA employees will not receive salaries on time. AP, Washington Post and the LA Times all covered the tanking economy and rising discontent, but these dispatches are just the tip of the iceberg. See below for a lot more on the emerging Palestinian Spring.
2. Palestinian rocket fire injures seven Israelis. Schools closed in Ashdod and Beersheva. Jerusalem Post coverage.
3. Canada severed all ties with Iran, shutting down the Iranian embassy in Ottawa. Foreign Minister John Baird explained why:
He cited a list of long-standing beefs with the regime in Tehran as justification for the abrupt move, including Iranian military assistance to Syria and its refusal to comply with United Nations resolutions on its nuclear program.
“It routinely threatens the existence of Israel and engages in racist anti-Semitic rhetoric and incitement to genocide; it is among the world’s worst violators of human rights,” Baird told reporters in Vladivostok, Russia.
Pressed on why Canada decided to act now on grievances it’s had for months and years, Baird said only, “There’s just a long list of reasons why we’re coming to this decision.”
But he said the main motivation was an attack on the British embassy in Tehran nine months ago and worries that Canadian diplomats were in danger.
No doubt, one consideration was allegations that Iran used its embassy in Ottawa to recruit expatriates “to be of service to Tehran.” Reacting to the embassy closure, Toronto Star columnist Tony Burman says Canada “outsourced its foreign policy to Jerusalem.” But National Post columnists David Frum and Jonathan Kay gave the move their thumbs up, as did a Toronto Sun staff-ed.
See also 5 Key Disputes Canada Had With Iran.
• Maan News says Palestinians angry over rising prices “burnt advertising boards and pictures of Palestinians killed in conflict with Israel, causing 100,000 shekels ($25,150) worth of damage.” What have the Palestinians come to if even their martyrs are no longer sacred?
• The PA wants to re-examine the Paris protocols, which govern the basic Israeli-PA economic relationship. Palestinian protesters say the current arrangements make their economy overly dependent on Israel. Maan News implies that the PA’s trying to remove Israeli leverage ahead of the upcoming UN statehood bid:
The Protocol gave Israel sole control over Palestine’s external trade, and collection of customs duties, allowing the state to serially hold back this revenue as punishment for Palestinian political measures, such as the bid for UN membership.
And the Times of Israel quoted one Jerusalem official’s take:
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.
• In other restive Ramallah developments:
- Truck drivers blocked streets.
- Protesters surrounded Salam Fayyad’s entourage.
- A public transport strike was announced for tomorrow.
• CNN looks at the West Bank economy and fears that the Ramallah bubble’s about to burst:
Many Palestinians are borrowing money to fund their basic needs and it is feared that, if donor aid dries up, many will be without work to fund their lifestyles . . .
“The large debt, public debt, we have around $5 billion in public debt that consists of around 70% of GDP, too huge for a government that’s just born.”