Monday, September 20, 2010

Palestine: Gaining Currency?

by Jonathan Schanzer

The Palestinians are putting money on notion that they will have a state next year.

This month's edition of The Monocle, a London based magazine on politics and culture reveals that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is planning to roll out a currency—the Palestinian pound.

In a one-on-one interview, Palestine Monetary Authority Chairman Jihadal-Wazir, son of Fatah founder and PLO terrorist Khalil al-Wazir, insists that the step is "not necessarily immediate." However, based on the interview with this sharply dressed–Marquette University graduate, it is also clear that a great deal of planning has already gone into the currency.

For example, The Monocle reports that a photo of the late Yasir Arafat "is almost certain" to appear on the currency, and that the design of the currency will likely be decided by competition. Reserves of the currency would also be held in the Palestinian Central Bank, which is currently under construction in Ramallah.

The currency has deep historical meaning. In short, because the Palestinians have never been a nation, they've never had a currency of their own. The Pound was the currency of the British Mandate of Palestine from 1927 until the creation of Israel in 1948. From 1948 until 1967, when the West Bank was under Jordanian occupation, citizens there were forced to do business in Jordanian dinars. Similarly, thanks to the Egyptian occupation of the Gaza Strip, citizens there had little choice but to trade in Egyptian pounds. Since 1967, the Palestinians in both territories have primarily done business in Israeli currency—the Lira until 1980, and the shekel since that time.

The Palestinians still don't have a state. But they now have reason to think that it's just a matter of time. U.S. President Barack Obama has jumpstarted the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, with a deadline of next fall to solve all of the outstanding issues, and set final borders. To that end, he is pushing the Israelis to relinquish lands conquered in previous Arab-Israeli wars so that Palestinians can inhabit them. Numerous reports indicate that the President is ready to back the establishment of an independent Palestinian state before the end of his first term.

Jonathan Schanzer

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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