Palestinian Authority Employees pay 24% interest for loans against their withheld salaries

I heard it from my friend in the Bethlehem Governorate. I had asked him how he and his colleagues had managed, since their salaries went unpaid until last month, following American and European sanctions imposed after Hamas took the most votes in January 2006 Palestinian elections.

Israel, the Americans, and some of the Europeans say that the sanctions were imposed because Hamas does not recognize Israel, and is unwilling to give up armed struggle.

“We had to take loans from the bank”, he said, “and we must repay them with 24% interest”.

That’s more than a credit card for someone with bad credit. It’s very close to, if not actually, usury.

The Palestinian Authority — which was the employer unable to pay the salaries — was asked to intervene with the bank to reduce the interest rate. Or to pay the interest. After all, it was the PA that could not pay.

But, the Palestinian Authority told its employees, it tried, but it couldn’t do anything.