West Bank Gas Stations Cut Off Palestinian Officials Over Non-Payment

Middle East analysts have traditionally outlined at least four broad categories of internal structural problems plaguing efforts to establish and stabilize a viable Palestinian state.

The Western-backed Palestinian Authority government (PA) which controls the West Bank lacks sovereignty over even the Palestinian-controlled territories that they explicitly reserve for a future state. Efforts to bring the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and Fatah-controlled territories in the West Bank under a single government have consistently faltered, rendering any potential Palestinian state almost by definition a failed state. Fatah officials expressed hope last week that the anti-Islamist wave sweeping Egypt will damage Hamas, avoiding the need for the two factions to reconcile.

If a single government was formed, it is not at all clear that it could establish control over its territories and prevent terrorist groups from conducting attacks on Israel, Egypt, and Jordan from within Palestinian territory.

The political illegitimacy of the current Fatah-led PA has also been gestured to as a potential third complication. Current PA President Mahmoud Abbas is in the ninth year of his four year term, and has recently begun to cycle through prime ministers. Polls show that Palestinian voters prefer jailed terrorists to either Fatah or Hamas leaders.

Finally, there is deep skepticism [PDF] that the West Bank could sustain a modern, functioning economy. Those worries will be deepened by news published in Arabic media today disclosing that gas station operators in the West Bank will no longer fill up PA security vehicles due to non-payment. Under normal circumstances, PA officials pay with PA government vouchers, and those vouchers are then reimbursed. The PA Finance Ministry last reimbursed fuel distributors five months ago.

[Photo: Begemot / Flickr]