Flags are starting to sprout from cars, and a billboard at the city entrance touts international support for Palestinian statehood. But at the square that is the venue for demonstrations here, the biggest gathering on a recent afternoon was a line of government employees at a bank, waiting to collect their delayed paychecks.
The Palestinian Authority is facing a financial crunch after a decline in foreign donations and the chief worry these days for many people in Ramallah — the seat of Palestinian government in the West Bank — is not international recognition, but making ends meet.
Weary after two uprisings and years of failed negotiations, Palestinians are taking a sober view of the bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations this week even as an international push began Sunday to try to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. They express hope that the move could bring them more leverage in international diplomacy and legal forums, but acknowledge that it will do nothing to change their daily lives.
“Will this give us free borders, an airport, a currency? I don’t think so. The next morning it will still be the same story,” said Khalil Abddullah, heading home from the local market. “There will still be occupation, still checkpoints at the border, still the wall,” he added, referring to Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank.
There are memories here of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s declaration of independence in 1988 in Algiers, a move that led to recognition by scores of countries of a Palestinian state, but no change on the ground.
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