Arab states agree to aid for Palestinians
Qatar, Dec 9: Arab League foreign ministers agreed during a meeting on Sunday to send hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority to make up for punitive measures imposed by the Israeli government after a successful bid for recognition at the United Nations.
The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly last month to recognise Palestine as a non-member observer state, an historic though largely symbolic move.
Israel responded by withholding some $100m per month in taxes and customs duties it collects on behalf of the PA. The Israeli government said the money will instead go to pay Palestinian debts owed to Israeli companies.
Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator from the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said that Arab states had agreed to make up the shortfall.
"We agreed that Arab states activate a resolution of providing $100m per month," Erekat said. "The Qatari prime minister, and the Arab League secretary-general, will follow up the implementation of this resolution within two weeks."
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian prime minister in the West Bank, had warned that the PA could collapse without the funds. Many of the authority's employees have not received their full wages for months. "We can't pay the salaries," he said.
'Reconsider the peace process'
Also at the meeting, Qatari officials called for a rethink of the so-called "Arab peace initiative," a long-stalled 2002 initiative which offered normalisation with Israel in exchange for a withdrawal from the occupied territories and a "just settlement" for Palestinian refugees.
"It is logical after ten years to objectively reconsider the peace process, including the Arab initiative," said Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, the prime minister.
Sheikh Hamad, who heads the Arab League's follow-up committee on the initiative, said the proposal "would not be on offer forever."
Abbas, for his part, told ministers in Doha that he opposed withdrawing the plan, warning that it could lead to regional conflict.
"It is not permissible to talk about sidelining the Arab peace initiative. It should stay," he said. "It is a very important initiative, and I hope we would not talk every time about shelving it, because that would mean war."
The Qatari premier also criticised the so-called Quartet, a diplomatic body made up of the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, describing it as a "failure, and unable to make any achievements." He called for a "re-evaluation of its performance." Al Jazeera
Lastupdate on : Sun, 9 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 9 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 10 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST
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