News / Middle East

    Donors Urge Israel to Help Alleviate Palestinian Fiscal Crisis

    Margaret Besheer
    Donor countries to the Palestinian Authority met Sunday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly and urged Israel to lift some of its restrictions on economic activity in Palestinian areas in a bid to help alleviate a growing Palestinian financial crisis.

    Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said donor countries are worried about a dire and worsening economic situation in the Palestinian territories, particularly in Area C -- the territory covering 60 percent of the West Bank, where Israel maintains full control under the 1993 Oslo Accords.

    “The encouragement to Israel is to continue to lift restrictions on economic activity, and the current state of affairs makes it more difficult for the Palestinian economy to grow at the pace that we saw a few years ago," said Eide. "That also confirms this main message that institution building has been a success, but economic development is held back by activities in Area C.”

    Last week, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund issued a report that says the Palestinian financial crisis will continue to worsen unless foreign funding increases and Israel eases restrictions on economic activity.  The two agencies say the Palestinian Authority faces a shortfall of about $400 million this year.

    Palestinian Finance Minister Nabil Kassis told reporters Sunday that donor countries have some $300 million in promised pledges still unpaid.  He warned that a two-state solution - Israel and an independent Palestinian state living peacefully side-by-side -- could be at risk if the Palestinian Authority fiscal situation continues to deteriorate.

    “The two-state solution is in jeopardy if the P&A is not able to continue to function and to prepare for the two-state solution,” said Kassis.

    The Palestinian Authority has implemented austerity measures that have been met with anger by a frustrated public facing rising fuel and food prices and staggering unemployment.

    Finance Minister Kassis would not say how long the Palestinian Authority could continue to operate without additional funds.

    Israel’s deputy director-general for economic affairs, Irit Ben-Abba, said her government is very concerned about the situation and that it has taken steps to alleviate it, including releasing about $60 million to the Palestinian Authority last week.  The money is an advance payment of tax revenues.  She said Israel has also arranged for the transfer of goods and allowed projects to be implemented in Area C that will generate more income for the Palestinians.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Michael from: USA
    September 24, 2012 9:25 AM
    Lack of Palestinian trust, in lieu of a scholarly analysis, has broken the integration held out with great hope at the time of the Oslo Accords

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    September 24, 2012 7:46 AM
    Thanks for your concern for PA. We hear you concerned for them, but you don't seem to understand that the people who need help are the Israelis. What suggestion did you make to help the situation out there? Both parties have come to a bottle neck where they cannot help themselves. They must be helped from the outside. It is not hidden fact that there is no love lost between them, and particularly one party refuses to agree to the existence of the other, which all the more makes the solutions so far suggested far from tenable. What we need now are not people who just want two-state solution without proffering how to achieve it; what we need now is someone who can ask all parties to drop their demands whatsoever and accept a two-state settlement without a recourse to future obstructions. Without this, the parties will feud endlessly, and more enemies may be made along the way as countries align and realign along lines of religion, economics and politics.

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