Welch discusses PA funding with Livni

Officials: US envoy agreed aid shouldn't take form of salaries to PA employees.

welch waves 298 ap (photo credit: AP)
welch waves 298 ap
(photo credit: AP)
US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch met Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Amir Peretz Wednesday to discuss the "funding mechanism" being debated in Brussels for channeling aid into the Palestinian Authority. Welch, according to senior Israeli sources, was in the region primarily to gauge the situation in the PA, and not to go into details about Olmert's realignment plan. The US will not begin "heavy lifting" on this plan for at least another six months, the sources said, in order to see whether there may be a way for Israel and the Palestinians to begin some sort of dialogue. Livni, according to her office, told Welch she was satisfied by the "courageous policy of the international community," vis- -vis Hamas. She reiterated that while Israel supported the transfer of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, this needed to be done indirectly - not through the payment of salaries - and in a way that would bypass the Hamas government. According to Israeli officials, Welch agreed with Israel that the aid should not take the form of salaries paid to PA employees. Some inside the EU are pushing for this "funding mechanism to pay PA health and education workers." Welch, who met Wednesday in Ramallah with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said after that meeting that "the economic conditions in West Bank and Gaza are troubling. We are working closely with our EU colleagues to establish a temporary international mechanism to provide direct assistance to Palestinian people." Peretz, in his meeting with Welch, said it was important to do everything possible to open the border crossings to the PA , as a way toward easing the pressure on the Palestinian population. He told Welch that Israel would support elements inside the PA who were working for dialogue and moving the diplomatic process forward. "We need to sow the seeds of peace without harming security," he said.