Palestinian protesters took to the streets of the West Bank again Monday in the largest demonstration against the Palestinian Authority government in its 18-year history. People say they are fed up with the state of the economy.
The Washington Post reports protesters closed stores and schools, blocked traffic with burning tires and rallied in the streets to protest rising prices and unpaid salaries. And many are blaming the economic policies of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's government.
AFP reports transport unions called for a mass strike today to protest rising gasoline prices and unemployment.
Burning tires, large boulders and trucks blocked roads to prevent private vehicles from getting through and with no public buses, minibuses or taxis, West Bank cities were virtually shut down.
This is the second week of protests in the region. Digital Journal first reported on the trouble last week. And even President Mahmoud Abbas understands their frustration, quoted by the BBC, saying their demands are "justified" and that a "Palestinian Spring has begun".
The Fayyad government is struggling with a huge budget shortfall because US and Arab countries that support it, haven't delivered on $1.2 billion in promised aid. As a result government workers haven't been paid their full salaries in months.
The Washington Post quotes Ramallah taxi driver Sami Saleh saying, “Nobody is able to live, except the big officials.” “We have to pressure this government to change.”
AFP reports Fayyad and a group of government ministers met with business and union leaders on Sunday, along with people from the private sector try try to come up with some solutions. Recommendations will go to the cabinet on Tuesday. The Palestinian Authority is also hoping to begin talks with Israel on amending the Paris Protocol, which has a direct impact on local taxes and fuel prices. Israel still directly controls about 60 percent of the West Bank. Fayyad also said last week, he would step down if there was a "real public demand."