Abbas’s plea to Arab states: Show me the money!

Only Saudi Arabia and UAE giving any money at all and even their donations have dropped off precipitously.

By
September 14, 2010 01:35
2 minute read.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas

PA President Mahmoud Abbas. (photo credit: AP)

 
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On the eve of the resumption of direct peace talks, the Palestinian Authority on Monday expressed hope that the Arab countries will finally keep their promises to help the PA financially.

Most of the Arab countries have failed to meet their previous pledges to provide the Palestinians with financial aid, the PA said. With the exception of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the Arab world was continuing to ignore the Palestinians’ repeated requests for help, the PA added.

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Last week, PA President Mahmoud Abbas complained that the Palestinians haven’t seen “one cent” of the hundreds of millions of dollars that the Arab countries promised them, especially during the latest Arab summit in Libya last March.

Abbas said he raised the issue with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi during their meeting in Tripoli last week and voiced hope that the Arab countries would finally live up to their promises.

Earlier this week and under pressure from the US administration, the UAE agreed to donate more than $40 million to the PA budget.

According to a PA official, the donation is needed to pay salaries of civil servants and members of the Palestinian security forces.

The official pointed out that the UAE and Saudi Arabia were the only Arab countries who have made significant donations to the Palestinians in the past two years.



However, the official said that this year the two countries donated less than half of what they gave the PA last year.

In 2009, Saudi Arabia gave the Palestinians $240m. In comparison, the Palestinians received only $30m. from the Saudis between January 1, 2010, and the end of last month.

Hatem Abdel Kader, a former PA minister for Jerusalem affairs, said that most of the Arab countries refuse to give the Palestinians money. One of the reasons was the way the PA government was approaching the Arab countries.

“The Arabs are upset because the Palestinian Authority goes to the Americans and asks them to put pressure on the Arab governments to give money,” he said, noting that he recently visited Qatar to raise funds for Arab residents and institutions in east Jerusalem.

“The Arab governments have told me that they are offended by the way the Palestinians are asking for financial aid – through the Americans.”

According to figures released by the PA, only 22 percent of the $530m. received since the beginning of this year arrived from Arab donors. The rest came from Western countries and organizations, including the US.

“The Arab world doesn’t care about the Palestinians,” complained another PA official. “We have to beg them for money each time we face a crisis.” Because of the failure of the Arab donors to fulfill their commitments, the PA has been recently facing “financial difficulties,” he said.

The situation is bad, the official added. “We have about 150,000 employees, half of them living in the Gaza Strip, who need to feed their families. Without the money, we will lose control.”

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