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Palestinians Rising Up?

In the Middle East you should never say that you are living in the worst of all possible worlds because things can always get worse.

Serious unrest on the West Bank is breaking out, the result of immediate frustration over high gas prices, but more broadly from failed Palestinian diplomatic efforts at the UN, the absence of any progress toward an agreement with Israel that would end settlements and occupation, and economic problems resulting largely from the failure of Arab countries to fulfill their aid commitments to the Palestinian authority. The Wall Street Journal has details:

Over the past few days, thousands of Palestinian demonstrators have shut down roads, burned tires and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who as recently as last year was celebrated by Palestinians and the international community for revamping the government and boosting economic growth.

The work stoppage on Monday forced the closing of Palestinian retailers and government offices, marking a new escalation in the crisis and evoking memories of the early days of the Palestinian uprising against Israel, a quarter century ago.

Protesters chanted “Go home, Fayyad, Go home, Abbas,” referring to President Mahmoud Abbas, and called the prime minister a “collaborator” with the U.S. because of his close ties to U.S. officials.

The question of the Palestinians, for so long the centerpiece of Middle East politics, has been sidelined by the combination of the Arab Spring and the spread of sectarian war between Sunni and Shiite communities across the Middle East. For Palestinians, this isn’t just a problem of ego. The Palestinian economy depends on aid from Arabs and others. Keeping the aid flow going requires that the Palestinian issue be seen as a major strategic and political concern. The biggest problem of the Palestinians has been the desire of the rest of the world to forget about them. Their biggest political triumph has been that over and over again they have managed to reinsert themselves on the world’s agenda.

Palestinians cannot afford to be forgotten by the world. Expect them to do their best to remind us all that they exist.

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