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Palestinians seek aid from Arab states

Ahmed Qureia

By Mohammed Assadi, Ramallah
SAUDI ARABIA and other Arab states are expected to speed money within days to the Palestinian Authority to help keep it afloat after Israel halted its tax payments.

Ahmed Qureia, the outgoing prime minister, said the cash-strapped authority had been forced to turn to its "Arab brothers" to cushion the blow.

Mr Qureia and other Palestinian officials, however, were still hopeful that the Jewish state, under US pressure, would agree to transfer the money owed.

Israel froze automatic payments on Wednesday, a week after the election victory of Islamic militant group Hamas. It was scheduled to transfer around €45 million to the authority.

Palestinian customs revenue, collected by Israel, is the main source of funding for the Palestinian Authority, and is used to pay 140,000 government workers.

To make up for lost revenue, the Palestinians had hoped to receive an initial cash infusion of at least €27m from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

But Jihad al-Wazir, the acting Palestinian Minister of Finance, said Arab states were not expected to make any payments before Saturday, adding that negotiations were ongoing.

"This aid is for the Palestinian people and its authority so it can carry out its duties," Mr Qureia said.

The Saudi contribution was expected to top €16m, while Qatar was expected to provide more than €10m.

Mr Wazir said the United Arab Emirates would also make a contribution, but he did not provide a figure. Talks were also underway with Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan, officials said.

"We expect that (Palestinian) employees can withdraw salaries next week," Mr Wazir said.

But a Palestinian diplomat in Qatar denied that the €27m figure was emergency aid.

The diplomat said in Doha that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had agreed to donate €10m and €16m, respectively, before the elections.

A Riyadh-based Palestinian diplomat said Saudi Arabia will begin talks this month with the Palestinian Authority over financial aid of at least €900m to plug its widening budget deficit.

The United States has urged Israel to keep up the tax payments, at least until Hamas formally enters the government.

Israel has not ruled out restarting payments after completing a policy review ordered by interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Mr Olmert, however, has called for a boycott of any Palestinian government that includes Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel's destruction.

"We hope that Israel will release the money immediately," said Mr Qureia at the start of a cabinet meeting in Ramallah.

 

Palestinians seek aid from Arab states

Ahmed Qureia

By Mohammed Assadi, Ramallah
SAUDI ARABIA and other Arab states are expected to speed money within days to the Palestinian Authority to help keep it afloat after Israel halted its tax payments.

Ahmed Qureia, the outgoing prime minister, said the cash-strapped authority had been forced to turn to its "Arab brothers" to cushion the blow.

Mr Qureia and other Palestinian officials, however, were still hopeful that the Jewish state, under US pressure, would agree to transfer the money owed.

Israel froze automatic payments on Wednesday, a week after the election victory of Islamic militant group Hamas. It was scheduled to transfer around €45 million to the authority.

Palestinian customs revenue, collected by Israel, is the main source of funding for the Palestinian Authority, and is used to pay 140,000 government workers.

To make up for lost revenue, the Palestinians had hoped to receive an initial cash infusion of at least €27m from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

But Jihad al-Wazir, the acting Palestinian Minister of Finance, said Arab states were not expected to make any payments before Saturday, adding that negotiations were ongoing.

"This aid is for the Palestinian people and its authority so it can carry out its duties," Mr Qureia said.

The Saudi contribution was expected to top €16m, while Qatar was expected to provide more than €10m.

Mr Wazir said the United Arab Emirates would also make a contribution, but he did not provide a figure. Talks were also underway with Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan, officials said.

"We expect that (Palestinian) employees can withdraw salaries next week," Mr Wazir said.

But a Palestinian diplomat in Qatar denied that the €27m figure was emergency aid.

The diplomat said in Doha that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had agreed to donate €10m and €16m, respectively, before the elections.

A Riyadh-based Palestinian diplomat said Saudi Arabia will begin talks this month with the Palestinian Authority over financial aid of at least €900m to plug its widening budget deficit.

The United States has urged Israel to keep up the tax payments, at least until Hamas formally enters the government.

Israel has not ruled out restarting payments after completing a policy review ordered by interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Mr Olmert, however, has called for a boycott of any Palestinian government that includes Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel's destruction.

"We hope that Israel will release the money immediately," said Mr Qureia at the start of a cabinet meeting in Ramallah.

 

Palestinians seek aid from Arab states

Ahmed Qureia

By Mohammed Assadi, Ramallah
SAUDI ARABIA and other Arab states are expected to speed money within days to the Palestinian Authority to help keep it afloat after Israel halted its tax payments.

Ahmed Qureia, the outgoing prime minister, said the cash-strapped authority had been forced to turn to its "Arab brothers" to cushion the blow.

Mr Qureia and other Palestinian officials, however, were still hopeful that the Jewish state, under US pressure, would agree to transfer the money owed.

Israel froze automatic payments on Wednesday, a week after the election victory of Islamic militant group Hamas. It was scheduled to transfer around €45 million to the authority.

Palestinian customs revenue, collected by Israel, is the main source of funding for the Palestinian Authority, and is used to pay 140,000 government workers.

To make up for lost revenue, the Palestinians had hoped to receive an initial cash infusion of at least €27m from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

But Jihad al-Wazir, the acting Palestinian Minister of Finance, said Arab states were not expected to make any payments before Saturday, adding that negotiations were ongoing.

"This aid is for the Palestinian people and its authority so it can carry out its duties," Mr Qureia said.

The Saudi contribution was expected to top €16m, while Qatar was expected to provide more than €10m.

Mr Wazir said the United Arab Emirates would also make a contribution, but he did not provide a figure. Talks were also underway with Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan, officials said.

"We expect that (Palestinian) employees can withdraw salaries next week," Mr Wazir said.

But a Palestinian diplomat in Qatar denied that the €27m figure was emergency aid.

The diplomat said in Doha that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had agreed to donate €10m and €16m, respectively, before the elections.

A Riyadh-based Palestinian diplomat said Saudi Arabia will begin talks this month with the Palestinian Authority over financial aid of at least €900m to plug its widening budget deficit.

The United States has urged Israel to keep up the tax payments, at least until Hamas formally enters the government.

Israel has not ruled out restarting payments after completing a policy review ordered by interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Mr Olmert, however, has called for a boycott of any Palestinian government that includes Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel's destruction.

"We hope that Israel will release the money immediately," said Mr Qureia at the start of a cabinet meeting in Ramallah.

 

Palestinians seek aid from Arab states

Ahmed Qureia

By Mohammed Assadi, Ramallah
SAUDI ARABIA and other Arab states are expected to speed money within days to the Palestinian Authority to help keep it afloat after Israel halted its tax payments.

Ahmed Qureia, the outgoing prime minister, said the cash-strapped authority had been forced to turn to its "Arab brothers" to cushion the blow.

Mr Qureia and other Palestinian officials, however, were still hopeful that the Jewish state, under US pressure, would agree to transfer the money owed.

Israel froze automatic payments on Wednesday, a week after the election victory of Islamic militant group Hamas. It was scheduled to transfer around €45 million to the authority.

Palestinian customs revenue, collected by Israel, is the main source of funding for the Palestinian Authority, and is used to pay 140,000 government workers.

To make up for lost revenue, the Palestinians had hoped to receive an initial cash infusion of at least €27m from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

But Jihad al-Wazir, the acting Palestinian Minister of Finance, said Arab states were not expected to make any payments before Saturday, adding that negotiations were ongoing.

"This aid is for the Palestinian people and its authority so it can carry out its duties," Mr Qureia said.

The Saudi contribution was expected to top €16m, while Qatar was expected to provide more than €10m.

Mr Wazir said the United Arab Emirates would also make a contribution, but he did not provide a figure. Talks were also underway with Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan, officials said.

"We expect that (Palestinian) employees can withdraw salaries next week," Mr Wazir said.

But a Palestinian diplomat in Qatar denied that the €27m figure was emergency aid.

The diplomat said in Doha that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had agreed to donate €10m and €16m, respectively, before the elections.

A Riyadh-based Palestinian diplomat said Saudi Arabia will begin talks this month with the Palestinian Authority over financial aid of at least €900m to plug its widening budget deficit.

The United States has urged Israel to keep up the tax payments, at least until Hamas formally enters the government.

Israel has not ruled out restarting payments after completing a policy review ordered by interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Mr Olmert, however, has called for a boycott of any Palestinian government that includes Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel's destruction.

"We hope that Israel will release the money immediately," said Mr Qureia at the start of a cabinet meeting in Ramallah.