The PLO Has Renounced Its Agreements with Israel—and Demonstrated Its Own Irrelevance

March 9 2022

Last month, a senior figure of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) declared that the group’s governing body had decided “to renounce all the commitments of the Oslo Accords,” along with any other “agreements with the state of Israel,” and end security cooperation with the Israeli government. It was the PLO that was party to the Oslo Accords, which in turn created the Palestinian Authority (PA) to govern in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. Thus, as Maurice Hirsch explains, this decision should be significant. But reality is somewhat different:

[D]espite the ostensible severity of the . . . decision, nothing on the ground has changed. Neither the PLO nor the PA has announced any severing of the security coordination with Israel, and they certainly did not decide to stop taking the hundreds of millions of dollars of taxes Israel collects every month and gives to the PA.

In stark contrast, in May 2020, the PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas decided alone . . . to renounce all agreements with Israel, including those regarding security coordination and tax revenues. That decision held for six months, after which the coordination was renewed and the PA agreed to accept the billions of shekels (over a billion dollars) in tax revenue that had accrued during that period.

PLO declarations aside, the reality is that everyone—including the Palestinians themselves—knows that the PLO is a defunct institution that lacks any real legitimacy. Both the PLO and the PA are run as a de-facto dictatorship, in which decisions are made by one person. . . . No one truly puts any stock in the decisions made by the PLO, and the organization itself is incapable of enforcing the decisions it and its institutions make.

Surveys conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research show even declining Palestinian support for the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.” The March 2019 survey showed that only 54 percent of those surveyed still viewed the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative” of the Palestinians, down from 69 percent in 2006.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Mahmoud Abbas, Oslo Accords, Palestinian Authority, PLO

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism