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World Bank Says Palestinian Financial Crisis Worse Than Expected

The World Bank says the financial crisis in the Palestinian territories is worse than expected and it threatens to provoke a humanitarian crisis and the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

A bank report circulated Monday says 2006 is shaping up to be the worst year in recent times for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank.

The report follows the recent cut-off of Western financial aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government over its refusal to recognize Israel and renounce violence. Since then, the government has failed to pay the salaries of 165,000 government workers for April and May.

Diplomats from the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations meet Tuesday in New York to discuss the looming crisis and strategies for reviving the dormant Middle East peace process.

The foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia also are expected at the New York meeting.

Russia last month called the Palestinian aid embargo a mistake, and Saturday said it was sending $10 million in emergency assistance to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Sunday that the quartet must find solutions to end the crisis and to protect Palestinian institutions created under earlier peace negotiations

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.