karni crossing 298 88 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Palestinian health minister on Saturday urged the Arab League and international community to provide $4.3 million for health care in the Palestinian territories to prevent "a humanitarian and health disaster."
Health Minister Bassem Naim also told reporters following a meeting with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa that his government was ready to talk with Israel about opening the crossings to allow medical aid to reach the people.
"As a people under occupation, we are doing our best for the aid to reach the people. We are ready to talk to any party but such talks won't mean recognition of the occupier," Naim said.
The repeated closure of the Karni crossing between Israel and Gaza has greatly reduced the flow of goods into Gaza. Israel says that it is making allowances to expedite the movement of humanitarian aid, but the Palestinians say that much of the aid - including medicine and medical supplies - is stuck at the border.
Last week, Naim predicted that the Palestinian Authority's health care system would collapse in two months if the flow of funding did not resume. The Health Ministry, which runs the vast majority of Palestinian hospitals and clinics, normally spends about $9m. a month.
International aid workers and PA officials have said that preventable deaths will be widespread unless money is found soon.
A meeting of the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers - the US, European Union, United Nations and Russia - agreed last week to establish a temporary fund to provide additional assistance to the Palestinians while bypassing the Hamas-led government. The details of how the mechanism would operate were not announced.
Some 165,000 civil servants have not been paid for two months since Western donors cut off aid in response Hamas's formation of the Palestinian government.
Meanwhile, the American Medical Resources Foundation, a non-governmental organization based in the US, said it was prepared to donate five containers of medical equipment to the Palestinians through the Arab League. The organization, which gives used medical equipment to hospitals in developing countries, made its pledge to the league in a fax provided to AP.