On September 30, just as he had warned a week earlier, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dropped a “bombshell” at a speech before the UN General Assembly. In somewhat vague terms, Abbas said, “We declare that as long as Israel refuses to commit to the agreements signed with us...they leave us no choice but to insist that we will not remain the only ones committed to the implementation of these agreements.” By “agreements,” Abbas meant the Oslo Accords, signed in 1993 and 1995, which are considered the cornerstone of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The accords established the Palestinian Authority and laid out a five-year timetable for the resolution of disputes between Israel and Palestine. Since then, peace has stalled in light ofHamas-sponsored terrorist attacks against Israel, the exchange of rocket firebetween the two, intifadas, and the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Amal Ahmad, a policy member of Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network, echoed Abdullah’s sentiments regarding economic independence, but believes that reform will do little for Palestine’s economy without an actual end to the occupation. Ahmad explained to me that “To instigate real reform for the Palestinian economy, [Palestinians] must challenge Israel’s status-quo strategy, which is the containment of Palestinians in a perennial no-state solution.” Ahmad believes that Israel has demonstrated its lack of interest in meaningful interim economic reform and encourages Palestinians to pressure Israel into ending the occupation.