Salam Fayyad has been saying we’re ready to unilaterally declare independence, and that we are ready to be self-dependent economically.
Then, on March 15th, the people reminded him that Gaza was under a different government and that we needed to unite efforts if we are going to go against the will of Israel and the U.S. veto. Almost two months later, popular and new regional pressures helped push a reconciliation deal signed between Fateh and Hamas.
Israel obviously rejected this, and decided to freeze the transfer of Palestinian tax revenues to the Authority. Salam Fayyad was quick to stop the wages of civil servants, saying that the 300 million NIS being held by Israel were supposed to cover them.
What if Israel froze the transfer of taxes in September when we declare Independence? They almost defiantly will. Was there really no contingency plan for the wages?
This leaves us with two possible conclusions; we were never ready to declare Independence and Salam Fayyad’s plan failed, or Salam Fayyad is using civil servant wages as a political card to insure he is still part of the new government. Here he will tie economic stability with his position as prime minister in the public eye, gathering the public support he never had. In a time when public opinion means everything in the Arab world, this is a very strong card to play.
One must take into account that neither Fateh or Hamas are too fond of Fayyad, one side seeing him as an American puppet, the other seeing him as a threat to their own political weight. The public have always seemed indifferent to Fayyad, seeing him as an extension of the president’s will.
Withholding public servant wages worked to shift public opinion before in 2006. The question is, in the Arab Spring, will it work again.