Skip to comments.Quartet agrees on ways to get aid to Palestinians
Posted on 05/09/2006 3:26:07 PM PDT by Piranha
NEW YORK - Members of the Quartet of Middle East peace brokers, which is meeting at the United Nations in New York, agreed Tuesday to back a "temporary international mechanism" to channel aid to the Palestinians for a trial period to ease the financial squeeze on the new government following the election of Hamas.
The Quartet members - the European Union, United Nations, U.S. and Russia - reached a "silent agreement" to establish a trust fund that will pay the salaries of Palestinian civil servants through the office of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
The group issued a statement indicating they had agreed on a three-month trial period for the mechanism.
The initiative is meant to bypass the Hamas government and pay the salaries of 165,000 civil servants who have yet to receive payments since March. The decision stems from a realization by Quartet members that a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian Authority must be averted
Earlier, a source close to the talks said that the United States was edging closer to agreeing to a "temporary international mechanism" to pay employees of the Hamas-led government who have not received wages for two months.
"America is softening its position. The Arab foreign ministers made very clear if the Palestinian Authority collapses then you could potentially have a civil war," said the source, who asked not to be named as negotiations were at a delicate stage.
He said the money could be handled via a body such as the World Bank which could set up a special account for a limited period. However, he stressed no final decisions had been made.
Before talks in private, heard from foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, who are also concerned that cutting off aid will lead to the financial collapse of the Palestinian government and boost violence in the region.
Arab nations are pushing for a French proposal to channel funds through the World Bank or for salaries to be paid via the office of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah party lost to Hamas in the January parliamentary elections.
In addition, the Arab League has offered a plan to deposit donor funds directly into the accounts of government workers, but this has been thwarted by Washington.
Hours before the talks, Abbas urged the Quartet to end the freeze on foreign aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government, saying lack of funds could "jeopardise the very foundation" of government.
As a result of the freeze, the Palestinian Authority has been unable to pay salaries to 165,000 civil servants since March, prompting concerns of a humanitarian crisis that could trigger an upsurge of Middle East violence.
"It is a difficult situation, but I want to say that we are not going to let the Palestinians starve," said the European Union's foreign policy chief Javier Solana after talks with the Arab ministers.
"A quarter of Palestinians rely on public sector salaries, and failure to pay these salaries could jeopardize the very foundation of the institutions of the Palestinian Authority and the future Palestinian state," Abbas told the Quartet.
"I therefore urge you to ensure that salaries are paid," he wrote in a letter obtained by Reuters. "Besides the potential humanitarian crisis resulting from the general deterioration of the economic situation, inability to pay salaries might have deep destabilizsing political and security implications," he said.
"We hope the Quartet will take the decision to continue with aid," said Saeb Erekat, the PLO's chief negotiator.
Erekat called on the Quartet to give the Palestinian government "the chance it needs," adding, "we are doing everything we can to convince the government to accept international decisions."
The Bush administration says it will listen to proposals over how to pay 160,000 unpaid government employees but is unlikely to stray from its strategy of isolating Hamas until the militant group renounces violence, recognizes Israel and agrees to abide by previous interim peace deals between Palestinians and Israelis.
"The principle for us remains the same. We want to address the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people, but we are not going to provide money to a terrorist organization," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
After Hamas won Palestinian elections in January and formed a government in March, the United States and the European Union cut off direct financial aid for the Palestinian Authority.
The World Bank has warned donors the financial crisis gripping the Palestinian Authority since Hamas won was deeper than it first thought and could render the West Bank and Gaza ungovernable.
The PA has been unable to receive funds from abroad because local, regional and international banks fear sanctions by the United States, which regards Hamas as a terrorist organization.
"The U.S. position at this point is too rigid," said Ned Walker a former U.S. ambassador to both Egypt and Israel.
But Walker stressed the United States was unlikely to take any major decisions until after President George W. Bush has met later this month with new Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Better the Quartet should pay every Palestinian suicide bomber who agrees to leave Israel, Yehuda, Shomron and Gaza $25,000 (a suicide bomber's wages) if he agrees never to return.
How do you aid a people that do not exist?
Silly me. I thought the objective was to cut off funds to those that can't conform to human standards of behavior. I didn't realize the objective was to find a way to get the funds to them.
you need a committee to appropriate first ;)
they were in the bible
they were philistines!
The Palestinians could hold a telethon, I'm sure every Arab would gladly send them a penny, with all the Muslims in the world, they will have plenty of funds.
For a moment I thought this said "Quartet Agress on way to get rid of Palestinians."
Whenever I hear that term "Quartet of Middle East peace brokers", I wanna puke - I just know something totally screwed up is in the making ;-(
Can you find a reference to your story about the NY ad agency? This is the first time I heard that story and I would love to find a prooftext.
finally, someone has a handle on the reality of who is sitting on the jews land.....