In recent weeks, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been in a worsening financial crisis, chronically unable to pay the salaries of its 150,000 workers on whose docility its survival depends.
But while PA “prime minister” Salam Fayyad, would love to be able to meet payroll now, that was not always the case.
Reading through a leaked confidential US government cable from 9 May 2006, I came across a little gem:
Presidential Advisor Akram Hanniyyah and PLC member Salam Fayyad commented to [US] Consul General [Jacob Walles] in separate May 9 meetings that the payment of PA salaries is a critical issue. Hanniyyah pressed for immediate disbursement of the USD 70 million in Cairo, saying it would shift the press story from US blocking bank transfers to Hamas’ inability to govern, once those donations were expended. By contrast, Fayyad thought that any movement on salaries now would let Hamas off the hook and was ill-advised.
The context is that following Hamas’ January 2006 election victory, the “Quartet” – the US, EU, UN and Russia – had imposed a financial embargo on the PA in an effort to undermine support for Hamas, bring down the cabinet it led, and overturn the election result. The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority of “president” Mahmoud Abbas was fully complicit in this embargo, and later the siege of Gaza.
The cable states:
Fayyad thought the timing of European interest in paying some salaries was “unfortunate,” as Hamas is only now beginning to feel financial pressure. He also thought it important for the Quartet to avoid giving any signals that its position on Hamas is weakening.
It would be another year before Fayyad was appointed as “prime minister” following Hamas’ foiling of violent US and Israeli backed coup against it by Abbas loyalists in Gaza.
But this little exchange shows that Fayyad was already conspiring with the United States and Israel against Palestinians, preferring to see them suffer so that the election result could be overturned.