Saudis to give $100 million to cash-strapped Palestinians (REUTERS) By Noah Browning RAMALLAH, West Bank 07/15/12)
Reuters News Service
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RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia will give the
Palestinian Authority $100 million to help alleviate a stinging
budget crunch, the Palestinian prime minister´s office said on Sunday.
News of the cash was welcomed by Palestinian officials in the Israeli-
occupied West Bank, as salaries for public sector employees have yet
to be paid in full this month and economic doldrums promised to mar
the usually festive and spendthrift Ramadan holiday beginning next
The transfer, described by Palestinian officials as imminent, will
only partially defray the Authority´s (PA) some $300 million in
expenditures this month. But officials in Ramallah are seeking the
support of yet more countries to patch a budget deficit projected at
over $1 billion for 2012.
"This $100 million is important and significant because it´s coming
from a leading Arab state, and this hopefully can be an example for
other countries to follow," Ghassan Khatib, a government spokesman,
"We will remain in need of external funding. Whenever it is affected,
then we will be in crisis," he said.
Amid a downturn in productive sectors and with its economic and
commercial prospects hamstrung by Israeli restrictions, the PA is
deeply dependent on foreign aid to pay its bills.
Of a hoped-for $1.1 billion in donor funds in 2011, the Western-
backed Authority in Ramallah received just under $750 million.
Several factors coalesced last year to leave the Palestinians out of
pocket: a global financial downturn, a freeze in Israeli-managed
customs duty as West Bank officials sought unity with militant
Islamist rivals in Gaza and an aid freeze by the United States
following Palestinians´ abortive bid for statehood at the United
Nations last fall.
But with Saudi Arabia´s aid offer, Palestinians may hope for an end
to the shortfall in pledges by traditional Arab benefactors, wrought
in part by attention to domestic unrest and spending during the Arab
Spring last year.
Providing the PA with $200 million at the height of its maneuvering
for recognition at the UN last September, Saudi Arabia is a key
financial fallback for the Authority, whose officials have been keen
to express their gratitude.
"This generosity added to the track record of financial and political
support by the Kingdom, represented by the custodian of the Two Holy
Shrines (King Abdullah)," Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad
said in a statement on Sunday.
"This support will have a deep impact in deepening the steadfastness
of the Palestinian people," he added. (Reporting By Noah Browning;
Editing by Susan Fenton) (© Thomson Reuters 2012. 07/15/12)
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