The Palestinians are asking for $40 billion in international aid to set up independent state once a peace agreement with Israel is completed, Yasser Arafat's top economic adviser, Khaled Salam, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying Thursday.
Salam said the aid would be needed for Palestinian refugees, infrastructure, budget expenditures and an early retirement fund.
Salam, also known as Mohammed Rashid, said Israel would not be expected to come up with most of the money, but “Israel should feel and take great responsibility.”
Salam, a member of the team that is to head to Camp David, said the main problem is that Israel thinks in terms of “what can I give you.”
He said that the West Bank and Gaza belong to the Palestinians, according to United Nations resolutions, said the AP.
However, he said the Palestinians understand that Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak has some constraints in reaching a deal he can sell to the Israeli public. “The Palestinian delegation is seriously willing to have maximum flexibility in dealing with Israeli needs,” he told reporters in Ramallah.
But both sides seem locked into their present positions by internal problems, as public support for the two leaders fades, said the agency.
Polls showed Barak's popularity at a low point, and Arafat, the only consensus president the Palestinians have ever had, was also suffering in public opinion surveys, said the AP.
Looking over their shoulders at their domestic opposition, the two leaders would find it difficult to compromise at Camp David, according to the agency – Albawaba.com
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