Arab League slams US over attempt to halt PA aid

Criticizes Washington's efforts to stop Qatari relief for Palestinians.

arab league 298.88 (photo credit: Associated Press)
arab league 298.88
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Arab League criticized on Thursday Washington's attempt to halt the transfer of millions of dollars in aid from Qatar to the Hamas-led Palestinian government and warned the move could increase extremism in the region. Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday he received pledges from Qatar for US$40 million a month to cover the salaries of teachers and some health workers. But US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Tuesday said if the money was used to pay the salaries of Hamas members or was funneled through Hamas, "that would cross a line of the existing international understanding." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also questioned Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabir al-Thani about the aid package during a meeting on Wednesday. In response, a Qatari diplomat in Washington said "the salaries will go in the proper channel." But Arab League undersecretary-general Mohammed Sobeih said the Palestinian government needs the money to pay the salaries of about 165,000 employees, who "do not have other means to sustain." "The logic of siege and isolation against the Palestinians is tantamount to aggression, "Sobeih said. "Siege leads to frustration and this leads to extremism," he added.