Cash-strapped Palestinians urge Arabs to pay pledged funds
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories - The Palestinian government in the West Bank on Wednesday urged Arab nations to deliver on pledges to supply the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority (PA) with $100 million a month.
Already mired in a financial crisis, the PA has suffered further with Israel's decision to withhold the transfer of tax and tariff funds it collects on behalf of the Palestinians in the wake of their successful bid for enhanced UN status.
Arab nations have pledged to help make up the shortfall with a so-called financial "safety net," but the money has yet to be delivered.
"The cabinet... called on Arab states to activate the Arab safety net and disperse the funds it had pledged," the Palestinian cabinet said in a statement following its weekly meeting.
"The National Authority needs $240 million a month to be able to fulfill its obligations, as long as Israel continues to withhold our funds."
The cabinet also called on the international community "to compel Israel to (follow) the rules of international law and relevant international resolutions, and to stop the robbery of our people's resources and income."
The Palestinian Authority has been deep in a financial crisis for months now, with pledged aid from various nations on hold, and is finding it increasingly difficult to pay its employees.
They have resorted to strike action, although union leaders acknowledge that the government has little ability to secure the funds it needs to pay workers.
Speaking to the official Voice of Palestine radio station on Wednesday, Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said he had discussed the situation with Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi.
Arabi informed him that four Arab nations had indicated their willingness to contribute to the "safety net," which is meant to provide the PA with $100 million a month.
Separately, Algeria agreed to move up its transfer of $52 million in scheduled, non-safety net funds to the PA, Malki said.