An IDF soldier stands next to a blindfolded Palestinian prisoner.
(photo credit: REUTERS/IDF HANDOUT)
Australia has discontinued funding for the Palestinian Authority because of concern that the money is making PA payments to terrorists and their families possible, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Monday.
Canberra had allocated A$10 million ($7.4m.) to the World Bank’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund for the Palestinian Recovery and Development Program, which went to the PA.
“I wrote to the Palestinian Authority on May 29 to seek clear assurance that Australian funding is not being used to assist Palestinians convicted of politically motivated violence,” Bishop said. “I am confident that previous Australian funding to the PA through the World Bank has been used as intended.
However, I am concerned that in providing funds for this aspect of the PA’s operations there is an opportunity for it to use its own budget to [fund] activities that Australia would never support.”
Bishop said any assistance provided “to those convicted of politically motivated violence is an affront to Australian values, and undermines the prospect of meaningful peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
She said Australia remains committed to supporting “vulnerable Palestinians with access to basic services, including health care, food, water, improved sanitation and shelter.” As a result, Canberra will now direct the A$10m. “to the United Nations’ Humanitarian Fund for the Palestinian Territories, which supports these services.”
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About 75% of this money, she said, will be spent in Gaza.
Australia allocated some A$43m. ($33.2m.) in the 2018-2019 budget to the Palestinians, with part of the funds going to Australian NGOs working in the territories, part to the PA through the World Bank’s fund, and part to UNRWA.
The move comes some three months after the US Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, which will halt US funding to the PA – except for programs dealing with water, child vaccinations and east Jerusalem hospitals – until the PA ends payments to terrorists and their families.
The Knesset passed a similar bill late Monday evening that will require the government to deduct the NIS 1.2 billion the PA pays terrorists and their families from the taxes and tariffs Israel collects for the PA.
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