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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, [1] rendering any potential Palestinian state almost by definition a failed state. Fatah officials expressed hope [2] 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 [3] 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 [4] prime ministers. Polls show that Palestinian voters prefer jailed terrorists [5] to either Fatah or Hamas leaders.

Finally, there is deep skepticism [PDF] [6] 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 [7] 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 [8]]