Prime Minister of Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Mohammad Shtayyeh has reiterated that the Palestinian government is aiming to launch its own cryptocurrency which will be used as their primary currency, replacing the now used Israeli fiat currency, called shekel. The news was reported by an English-language local media Al-Monitor. The prime minister said during the speech that these measures are being taken by the Palestinian government so that they can get out of economic dependence on Israel.
Shtayyeh made this statement in the city of Ramallah where he was addressing the crowd present during the opening ceremony of the Palestine Center for Computer Emergency Response. PM Shtayyeh said that Israel won’t be able to block this effort of the Palestinian government in any way. This was Shtayyeh’s first public and television appearance in front of the public after he took office in April.
The Palestinian economy has about 25 billion shekels [$7 billion] circulating in the local economy, but we’re not forced to remain dependent on the shekel.
The monitor reported that PLO and the Israeli government had both signed the 1994 Paris Accord for Peace which made Palestine somewhat economically independent. According to the treaty signed, Palestine was allowed to form its own central bank that would work independent of the Israeli national bank; however, the bank was not allowed to print its currency bill and the bills of Israel were to be circulated in the state of Palestine.
The treaty explicitly stated that the Israeli shekel was to be distributed “as means of payment for all purposes including official transactions”. A professor of economic and social sciences at the Najah University in Nabulus told the Al-Monitor:
If Palestine has its own currency, will it be able to prevent Israel from withholding tax clearance funds or controlling crossings and the movement of exports and imports? The problem of the Palestinian economy is not the currency but rather a complex economic and political reliance on Israel.
The professor also pointed out the dependency of the Palestinian people on the shekel. He said that more than 170,000 Palestinians receive their salaries in shekels and almost 80% of all transactions in Palestine are done with Shekel.
The currency is the biggest and the only official currency in the Palestinian region; however, the print and value of money is controlled by the Israeli national bank and the Palestinian bank central bank has no control over the currency’s dispatch or valuation. The professor seems to think that:
Israel won’t accept dealing with another currency and the shekel surplus predicament in Palestine will remain unchanged.
The government of Palestine has been vocal about the economic dependency the people of Palestine have in terms of their monetary needs. The Israeli national bank has been resisting all efforts made by the Central Bank of Palestine to launch their own currency. The Paris Accord of 1994 has been their biggest weapon; however, if the Palestinians launch their own cryptocurrency with a blockchain-backed system, the Israeli government won’t have the reach to shut them out.