Arab ministers to set up $1 billion funds for Palestinians
Finance ministers from the 22-member Arab League will meet later this month to apply an Arab summit decision to set up two funds for the Palestinians, worth one billion dollars, League officials said. They will determine how to raise the money, define how the funds should be used and create a board to administer them.
At an October 22 summit aimed at supporting the Palestinians in their new uprising against Israel, Arab leaders endorsed a Saudi proposal to set up two funds for the Palestinians worth one billion dollars. Eight hundred million dollars would be raised to protect "the Arab and Islamic identity of Jerusalem" in addition to $200 million for the families of Palestinians killed in their uprising, or intifada.
The first of the two funds, named the "Al-Aqsa Fund" after the mosque in east Jerusalem where the clashes began September 28, will also help the Palestinians to "end their economic dependence on Israel."
The second fund was named the "Jerusalem Intifada Fund" to be spent on "the families of martyrs of the intifada and give them the means to raise and educate their children," officials said.
Saudi Arabia offered $250 million to the funds. Bahrain said later it would contribute three million dollars towards the two funds. Kuwait decided October 29 to contribute $150 million toward the two solidarity funds. Relations between Kuwait and the Palestinians have been strained since the Gulf War, during which Arafat supported Iraq, but have noticeably warmed up over the past weeks.
Palestinian-Israeli clashes have claimed around 180 lives and injured thousands of others, nearly all Arabs, since they erupted when a right-wing Israeli opposition leader visited a disputed holy site in Jerusalem. — (AFP, Cairo)
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