Arabs pledge financial support to Palestinians as crunch bites






Cairo -By Sanya Adel - Arab countries on Sunday said they were committed to offering 100 million dollars in monthly aid, pledged months ago in support of Palestinians who are in the grip of an acute financial crisis.

The commitment was made at an emergency meeting of Arab finance ministers held in Cairo, only days before a contested US-led economic conference, that is part of a Palestinian-Israeli peace plan.



 
The Palestinian Authority (PA) says it is facing difficulties paying civil servants after Israel decided in February to freeze money from taxes and customs collected by Israel on behalf of the PA.
The Arab ministers condemned in a final statement what they called "Israeli piracy of the Palestinian money" and urged the world community to pressure Israel into unfreezing the money.
The money withheld by Israel was used as financial support paid by the PA to families of Palestinians killed or jailed by Israel over attacks. 
Israel has criticized the payments, saying they encourage violence, while the PA has said the payments are a "social responsibility" to those affected by the Israeli occupation. 
The final statement of the Cairo talks also called on Arab financing institutions to offer loans and aid for development projects in the Palestinian Territories.
Earlier Sunday, Arab League head Ahmed Abul Gheit told the meeting that the Palestinian budget was suffering a shortfall of about 700 million dollars.
“It is necessary to act swiftly at the Arab level to support Palestinians through a financial safety net or any other form, including grants or even loans, to overcome this acute and serious crisis,” he said.
Abul Gheit called for implementing a safety net of 100 million dollars in monthly aid that was pledged at a pan-Arab summit in March in support of the PA.
“Activating this Arab safety net is an urgent necessity and a real test of how serious we are in our commitment to support steadfastness of our Palestinian brothers,” he added.
Palestinian Finance Minister Shukri Bishara told the meeting that the Palestinian government was facing a "serious financial situation."
On Saturday, the White House unveiled an economic proposal that it says will generate 50 billion dollars in investment over 10 years for the Palestinian economy.
The proposal was announced ahead of an investment conference scheduled for June 25-26 in Bahrain, organized by the US administration to advance its long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
The plan was already rejected by Palestinian leaders who say the US administration is too unabashedly pro-Israel.  

 


Sunday, June 23rd 2019
By Sanya Adel
           


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