'PA ministers say US hasn't confirmed it's cutting aid'

Ashton reportedly tells Abbas that EU funds are not at risk over statehood bid; PA planning minister says PA sees end to aid dependence.

October 3, 2011 16:10
2 minute read.
PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki.

Riad Malki 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman )

Two separate ministers in the Palestinian Authority government said on Monday that the PA has received no official word from the United States that $200 million in aid has been blocked as was reported by The Independent on Saturday.

Also on Monday, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported that EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told PA President Mahmoud Abbas the European Union would not cut its own funding of the PA in response to its statehood bid.

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Erekat: US cannot use aid as blackmail against the PA

The United States Congress reportedly blocked the transfer of $200 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority in what a Palestinian official called "collective punishment" for the PA's bid for membership in the United Nations, UK daily The Independent reported.

The unconfirmed report said that an unpublicized block on the transfer of funds, less than one third of the aid sent to the PA annually, has been in place since August.

PA Minister of Planning Ali Jirbawi said that the US Congress's decision to halt US aid to the Palestinians has not yet been issued to Palestinian officials, PA-run news agency WAFA reported on Monday.

Jirbawi, however, played down the effect of such a move should it happen, saying that it would not affect the PA's readiness for statehood.

The PA, he said, is "fully ready to embody the reality of a state," noting the difference between the financial crisis the PA faces and its readiness for statehood.

The minister of planning also laid out plans to reduce the PA's dependency on foreign aid, which he said the Palestinian government is "exerting all possible effort[s]" to ween itself from by 2013.

On Sunday, Ma'an reported, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki also said the PA has not received any "official confirmation" that he US aid money was being blocked.

The Arab League on Sunday asked its member states to increase financial help to the Palestinians after the reported US block on the transfer of funds, AFP reported.

The Arab League's chief called the bolstering of financial aid necessary for the Palestinians to "face this threat."

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