Arab states ‘have moral duty’ to aid Palestine

Lack of financial aid leaves Palestine exposed to threats, says politician Hanan Ashrawi
Arab states ‘have moral duty’ to aid Palestine
About a quarter of the Palestinian Authoritys $3.7bn budget comes from foreign aid
By Shane McGinley
Sun 21 Aug 2011 10:22 AM

A leading Palestinian politician has called on Arab states
to honour their multimillion-dollar financial pledges to the Palestine
Authority, as the country battles an economic crisis.

 “[Arab states] need
to honour their pledges,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation
Organization. “Especially given that Israel is threatening to withhold
our tax money and customs funds and the US Congress is threatening to cut off aid
and we are being blackmailed left, right and centre.

“I think it is a moral imperative and responsibility to free
us from such pressures and blackmail.”

The Palestinian Authority faces a financial crisis which forced
it to cut public sector wages by half in July. Policymakers have identified a
shortfall in Arab aid as the main cause.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the authority
had received 330m of the $971m in aid pledged for 2011, as of July 3. About a
quarter of its $3.7bn budget comes from foreign aid.

Oman, Algeria and the UAE were the only Arab countries that
had paid funds pledged for this year, Fayyad said. Saudi Arabia sent $30.8m in
July to help bridge the country’s budget gap.

 “We have a disastrous
economic situation,” said Ashrawi. “The Arab [states] need to stand by
Palestine, not just in moral and political terms but also in material terms.

“Saudi recently paid $30m in delayed payments but we hope
there will be a move to pay the rest and step up and send up and send a message
to Israel and the US that Palestine is not alone.”

Palestine next month plans to apply for full United Nations
membership in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, territories
captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

The US is expected to use its veto power in the Security
Council to block the move, which it sees as unhelpful to its efforts to bring
about a negotiated end to the conflict through the creation of a Palestinian
state next to Israel.

Facing the prospect of a US veto, the Palestinians are also
planning to seek a General Assembly resolution upgrading their UN status to
that of a non-member state. Not requiring Security Council approval, that is
expected to pass.

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