Arabs Pledge over $650m to Palestinians
Arab states have pledged 653 million dollars to support the Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation, Palestinian finance minister Zohdi al-Nashashibi said in CairoThursday.
An Arab summit on October 22 decided to set up two funds worth 1 billion dollars to help the Palestinians cope with the economic repercussions of eight weeks of Israeli-Palestinians clashes.
Nashashibi said so far Saudi Arabia has offered 250 million dollars, Kuwait and the UAE 150 million each, Qatar 50 million, Algeria 30 million, Oman and Yemen 10 million each, Jordan two million and Sudan one million.
All amounts except those pledged by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were promised at a gathering of Arab finance ministers here Thursday, which was discussing ways to implement the Arab summit's decision.
Nashashibi said the Palestinians "urgently need" an estimated 245 million dollars to be able to survive the "serious economic crisis created by Israel's siege on the Palestinian territories."
Of that amount, 60 million dollars were needed to pay outstanding wages, 60 million to help those who have lost their jobs, 65 million to help create new job opportunities for them, 40 million for urgent health and education spending and 20 million to families whose houses have been destroyed in Israeli raids.
Palestinian international cooperation minister Nabil Shaath complained that a month after the Arab summit only 30 million dollars had reached the Palestinian territories from other Arab countries.
Shaath demanded a mechanism managing the funds to be based inside the Palestinian territories to prevent Israel from controlling the money and its use.
"We'd like our Arab donors to have in Palestine an organization that supervises the spending, and we want an international auditing agency to audit every penny," he said.
"But we'd like at the same time a mechanism that can dispense as quickly as possible with money," especially the money for families of victims, he said.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)