US$100 million transferred to Abbas

Arab League and Saudi Arabia gave the money, which bypassed Hamas gov't.

abbas angry 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
abbas angry 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Arab League and Saudi Arabia have transferred some US$ 100 million (euro 78 million) to the Palestinians, the first funding since international aid was cut off after Hamas militant won legislative elections, a top Palestinian official and the Arab League said Tuesday. Nabil Shaath, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the Arab aid money bypassed the Hamas government and was transferred directly to Abbas on Monday. The Palestinian president will control how the funds are spent, he said. The EU, the US and other donors froze hundreds of millions of dollars (euros) in direct aid to the Palestinian government after Hamas won elections in January, demanding that the group recognize Israel and cease all support of terrorism. Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa in Cairo, Shaath said the Arab League had transferred half of the US $100 million (euro 78 million), while Saudi Arabia directly transferred the other half. "This is a glimpse of hope ... and a step toward squeezing-out of the siege," said Shaath. Moussa said the Hamas-led government had had knowledge of the transfer. "The transfer was in complete coordination with the Palestinian government," he said. Since March, Arab states have collected more than US $100 in aid for the Palestinians, but the money could not be transferred because international banks refused to allow the Arab League to transfer funds electronically to Palestinian territories, fearing sanctions from the US, which labels Hamas a terror group. Shaath and Moussa did not specify how the funds were transferred to the Palestinian Authority on Monday, or where the money had come from. The Hamas government, nearly bankrupted by the international sanctions, has resorted to bringing cash in suitcases to help keep it afloat. Twice last month, globe-trotting Palestinian cabinet ministers returned to the impoverished Gaza Strip at the border crossing with Egypt with millions of dollars stuffed in their luggage. The ministers did not specify who had donated the cash. "Money can be transferred if it is going to the President and if it is under his supervision," his deputy Mohammed Sobeih told The Associated Press. Shaath did not specify on Tuesday how Abbas will disburse the money received from the Arab League and Saudi Arabia.