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Today’s Top Stories
1. For the first time, Palestinian protests get widespread coverage. See below for details.
2. BDS Fail of the Day: Wits University leaders stood up against a student council’s call to boycott Israel.
3. Is Gaza preparing to declare independence from Palestine? Jonathan Schanzer writes:
But senior Gazans quietly acknowledged to me in recent meetings that Hamas, a Muslim Brotherhood splinter group, and President Mohamed Morsi’s new Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, are actively discussing this controversial idea . . .
In the meantime, Morsi and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh are reportedly still far from an agreement. According to political scientist Mkhaimar Abusada of the al-Azhar University in Gaza, the two parties may require anywhere from six months to another two years to iron out a deal whereby “Hamas goes its own way,” given all the legal issues and potential opposition involved.
Schanzer notes that while Egyptians might not happy to “let Israel off hook” for overseeing the movement of goods into Gaza, an independent Gaza could be lucrative for Egypt and the Sinai.
• In yesterday’s West Bank anti-government protests, 50 people were injured. Looking at the Jerusalem Post, I couldn’t get over the irony of Palestinian officials explaining the use of tear gas and other security measures.
However, he pointed out, the security forces were forced to intervene after municipality workers feared for their lives. Hmeid said that some of the attackers had threatened to kill the workers and set the municipality on fire.
Later, hundreds of protesters attacked a police station with stones during another demonstration in the center of Hebron.
• Maan News: Salam Fayyad announced several measures to alleviate the PA’s financial straits.
• Via The Lede: Palestinians took a page from the Syrian uprising, adapting an anti-Assad chant against PA leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad. And in Hebron, protesters threw shoes at a banner of Fayyad.
• Although Palestinians easily blame Israel for their economic woes, Wall St. Journal correspondent Josh Mitnick astutely noted:
Some Palestinians acknowledged that much of the frustration is rooted in the dashed expectations from 2011, when Palestinian leaders were lauded by the international community for having built an economy and a government that was ready to become independent, but were rejected at the United Nations Security Council when they submitted a membership request.
“Imagine you have been promised you will have a state, and suddenly you discover the [Palestinian Authority] can’t pay salaries, and suddenly the Palestinians are subjected to a high level of prices that the Palestinians citizens can’t bear,” Mr. Abdulkarim said. “Its like coming out of a dream to reality.”
• Dr. Ron Pundak, one of the architects of the Oslo accords, told the Christian Science Monitor that re-opening the Paris accords — which govern Israeli-PA economic arrangements — won’t help the PA economy. And Palestinian economist Samir Barghouti urged more efficiency and less reliance on donations:
The PA currently covers about 65 percent of its expenses, with 35 percent coming from foreign aid, he says. Through better management and the elimination of corruption, Mr. Barghouti says the PA could increase its revenues to cover 85 to 90 percent of its expenses – and thus put it within reach of controlling the deficit.
Part of the drain on the PA is that nearly half of its revenues go to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, while less than 5 percent of its income comes from the coastal territory.