Two top Palestinian unions in the West Bank said on Wednesday they had called a temporary halt to cost-of-living protests while they “open a dialogue” with the government.
Over the past 10 days, towns and cities across the West Bank have been rocked by protests and strikes in response to the rising cost of living, particularly the spiraling cost of fuel.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced cuts to VAT and fuel prices in a bid to quell the protests, and two key unions said on Wednesday they would halt further demonstrations while they hold talks with his government.
“The government decided to open a dialogue with the public transportation sector and form committees to look into our demands,” transport union spokesman Ibrahim Awadallah told AFP.
“We decided to suspend all of our protest actions until Sunday to see the outcome of these talks.”
Bassam Zakarneh, who heads the government workers’ union which on Tuesday protested outside Fayyad’s office, confirmed the syndicate would also halt protests until Sunday.
As well as cutting taxes and fuel costs, Fayyad pledged to begin paying overdue August salaries to civil servants.
And he said the price cuts would be funded by a freeze on spending at most ministries and cuts to the salaries and expenses of senior government officials, including ministers.
Transport workers staged a one-hour strike on Wednesday afternoon, but an AFP correspondent said it was only partly observed.
Over the past two months, the price of fuel has risen from six to eight shekels (from $1.50 to $2.00, 1.18 to 1.57 euros) per liter, sparking public anger which has largely been directed at Fayyad and his government.
There have also been calls to scrap the 1994 Paris Protocol which governs economic ties with Israel and has a direct impact on local taxes and fuel prices.