Egypt seeks methods to provide funding to Palestinian Authority

Daily Star Egypt Staff
5 Min Read

WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan will press Middle East peace brokers to find ways to get funds to the Palestinian Authority despite a U.S.-led ban on aid for Hamas that they say could cause a humanitarian crisis. Diplomats from the three countries said their foreign ministers would push the case at a meeting on Tuesday in New York with members of the quartet of peace brokers: Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations. Our worst case scenario is seeing the Palestinian Authority collapse as well as the Palestinian economy going through even harder times. That will evolve into a humanitarian crisis, said Jordan s ambassador in Washington, Karim Kawar. After Hamas won Palestinian elections in January and formed a government in March, the United States and the European Union cut off direct financial aid for the Palestinian Authority. The authority has been unable to receive funds from abroad because local, regional and international banks fear sanctions by the United States, which regards Hamas as a terrorist organization. At next week s meeting, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan will urge the quartet to consider proposals such as one by the French to allow the World Bank to channel funds to the Palestinian Authority to help it pay the overdue salaries of 165,000 employees. The British have also proposed a trust fund be set up to pay employees directly. It s important to continue to have assistance to the Palestinians. You cannot punish them, said Egypt s ambassador to Washington Nabil Fahmy. You can t move forward if people are faced with a horrible humanitarian situation, he added. The Arab League has also offered a plan to deposit donor funds directly into the accounts of government workers, but the United States has thwarted this. Another option could be to funnel money through the office of President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah party lost to Hamas in January. The United States and the EU have placed no restrictions on aid to Abbas. The United States is spearheading the campaign to isolate Hamas until the militant group renounces violence, recognizes Israel s right to exist and accepts past peace agreements. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States would listen to any proposals at Tuesday s meetings but he said only Hamas was to blame for its financial problems. The principle for us remains the same. We want to address the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people, but we are not going to provide money to a terrorist organization, McCormack said at a briefing. Saudi Embassy spokesman Nail Al-Jubeir said the quartet had to find a more realistic way of handling funding and not dangle legal threats against aid groups dealing with Hamas. We cannot wait for this to spiral further down to the point of no return. When you have an angry, unemployed, impoverished population, democracy and freedom and coexistence go out the window. Its survival, said Al-Jubeir. A common view among all three is that by demonizing Hamas, the United States and others would boost the militant group s standing and cut out moderates who support Abbas. They will also pressure the quartet to recognize that Israel should not be allowed to take unilateral action that would prejudice final-status negotiations on land distribution. Israel s new government took office on Thursday with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledging to implement a West Bank plan to evacuate isolated Jewish settlements while expanding larger settlements in the absence of a deal with the Palestinians. We do encourage returning territories to the Palestinians but it has to be negotiated and coordinated and not unilateral, said Jordanian ambassador Kawar. Reuters

Share This Article
Leave a comment