Just in case somebody had missed the latest proof of Norway’s unilateral approach in ME conflict:
Fayyad says taxes, fees Israel collects for PA ‘our money’; Norwegian PM says freeze ‘amounts to waterboarding an economy’
The Palestinian Authority is “fast approaching the point of being completely incapacitated” by Israel’s refusal to hand over tax revenues belonging to the authority, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said.
Israel’s freeze on the taxes and fees it collects for the Palestinian Authority at borders has deprived the government of two-thirds of its normal revenue since Nov. 1, making it hard to pay salaries and fix infrastructure, Fayyad said.
“This is our money,” he said. “It has nothing to do with donor assistance or anything like that.”
He spoke at a press conference alongside Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, who demanded an end to the policy that Israel imposed a day after the UN cultural agency UNESCO granted full membership to the Palestinians.
“It amounts to waterboarding an economy,” Stoere said, “because you almost kill it while allowing a small amount of air to come in.”
Israel has called the withholding of funds “temporary” and complained the Palestinians were unwilling to open direct peace talks, while Palestinian leaders have said they would talk only if Israel halts settlement activity in areas it occupies.
Fayyad said the frozen funds amount to some $100 million per month, or two-thirds of the Palestinian Authority’s revenue stream excluding international aid.
He spoke shortly after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met in Cairo with Khaled Mashaal, exiled leader of the radical Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza strip.
Fayyad reiterated that he was willing to step down if it would help heal divisions between the rival factions and pave the way for presidential and parliamentary elections. Hamas has rejected him as head of a joint government.
Norway chairs a committee of aid donors to the Palestinian Authority, including the United States, Israel and the European Union.
One regular reader sent me this short analysis on the two faces of Støre:
1. Støre was one of the main supporters, if not instigators, to make Abbas go to the UN. He went to Netanyahu and threatened (a year ago – it was in the papers) that unless Israel got going with some real peace talks Norway would support the declaration of a Palestinian state. Aftenposten had an editorial this summer that “we” consider these steps to be the “wise” way to go. There seems to have been a Norwegian political/media consensus that this strategy was correct. The whole thing misfired and most political analysts internationally (also in Sweden, who voted against) judged the mission as a failure and a serious error.
2. This “backfiring” must have been very frustrating to Støre personally, since with this initiative aimed for the sky but managed only to hit cowpats with the resulting unpleasant smells and revealing spots.
3. Palestinian authority has not recognized the state of Israel yet? They broke the agreement to negotiate and tried to blackmail Israel using the UN.
4. Støre has not thrashed Syria in media or calling a separate press conference on the blood shed there, on the contrary his only official statement was that he doesn’t want to request the resignation of Assad because there no ready-made alternative to take over. In contrast, while being almost apologetic over Syria’s bloody slaughter of its own people, our PM chooses to accuse Israel of water boarding the PA economy, when it is the PA itself that flagrantly has broken the terms of the Oslo Accords.
5. His emotional hate statement against Israel (also his erroneous jugdement of the flotilla) is bound to further lower the threshold for hate crime against Jews in Norway. However, the leader of the Labor Party Youth Movement accuses the Progress party of hate speech against the Muslims, relating this to the 22/7 tragedy.
6. Støre has not issued similar denouncements of Gadaffi, Mubarak, or Ahmadinejad in Norwegian press. His one sided bashing of Israel is anti-Semitic by the definitions of EU, UN and the US.
I say our pinheaded PM needs to question himself why he always uses the Jews (euphemistically called the Israelis) as a whipping boy. Maybe he should take up a hobby, such a knitting or something that could calm his fevered mind.
Alternatively, since it is Christmas, can’t he just make a colorful Christmas calendar and stuff it full of Norwegian foreign aid money? These monies are anyway being misspent in Haiti, where the lions part of our money goes toward funding the army.