Israel to suspend payments to PA as Wolfowitz urges continued international funding despite Hamas victory
Israel announced on Tuesday that it would suspend its monthly payments to the Palestinian Authority until after a policy review regarding the recent Palestinian elections and Hamas' rise to power.
A payment of $55 million, much of which goes towards salaries of some 140,000 Palestinian was supposed to have been handed over to the PA on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
Customs revenues are collected by Israel on Palestinian imports and exports through Israeli ports on behalf of the PA.
Israel stated that its decision was in line with international consensus regarding funding to a Hamas-led Palestinian regime.
Mushir al Masri of Hamas said that Israel was “trying to steal Palestinian money,” while Mazen Sonnoqrot, Palestinian Economy Minister, said that the move would have devastating consequences for the already suffering Palestinian economy, calling it “an irresponsible and grave decision” on Israel's part.
Hamas on Tuesday suggested that Palestinians should seek aid from sources other than Israel and the west.
The United Stated provided the PA with more than $200 million last year, while some $600 million was provided by the EU.
The group has also suggested the appointment of technocrats unaffiliated with Hamas to man government positions to ensure continued aid to Palestinians.
World Bank says aid to Palestinians should continue
Meanwhile, president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, stated on Wednesday that funding should not cease to the Palestinian Authority despite Hamas' recent victory in Palestinian elections.
The World Bank, subordinate to the so-called Quartet, must receive approval to continue work in the Palestinian territories. "What we do now depends on what the Quartet asks us to do," Wolfowitz told the Financial Times.
"I hope they will ask us to stay," he said, and urged the United States, EU, UN and Russia to allow the organization to continue its work in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Wolfowitz, a neo-conservative who formerly worked at the US Pentagon, suggested that the aid was crucial to the Palestinians.
"It will help the whole process if the life of the average Palestinian improves. We ought to be the last people to disengage."