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Palestinian Authority Forced to Delay Paying Civil Servants


Palestinian Authority finance officials say they will have to delay paying civil servants for at least two weeks, because of a financial crisis resulting from last week's Palestinian Legislative elections.

About 137,000 Palestinian civil servants could have to wait at least two weeks to see if they will receive their salaries. The news comes one week after the Islamic militant group Hamas won a majority in Palestinian legislative elections.

The Palestinian Authority needs about $116 million to meet its monthly payroll. Earlier this week, Israeli officials suspended transferring monthly tax and customs revenue to the Authority, worth about $50 million until they complete a policy review of the current situation in the Palestinian territories, following the Hamas victory.

International donors such as the United States and the European Union have threatened to suspend aid payments unless Hamas agrees to recognize Israel and disarm, something Hamas officials say they will not due.

Speaking in Cairo, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appealed to the international community not to punish Palestinians for the Hamas election victory.

Mr. Abbas says Palestinians desperately need the aid money and the international community needs to help Palestinians. He says the issue of who leads a future Palestinian government can be discussed at a future date.

Western donors provide the bulk of the Palestinian Authority's estimated $1 billion budget every year.

Palestinian officials say they have appealed to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States for short-term financing to meet immediate payroll needs. At the same time they say they are appealing to Israel to resume its money transfers, something Israeli officials say could happen after they complete their policy review.

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