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PA budget crisis expected to worsen

Oct. 3, 2012 3:48 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 6, 2012 7:30 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority does not expect a significant boost in foreign budget assistance to follow a meeting of donor countries in New York last month.

A report presented by Nabil Qassis, the Palestinian Authority finance minister, has received no significant response, a senior government official told Ma'an.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said late Tuesday that the financial crisis would likely escalate widely in the coming weeks and months due to foreign aid shortfalls.

"The sponsoring countries during the meeting in New York on Sept. 23 didn't make any promises to provide the PA with financial aid, and that's a warning sign aggravating the crisis."

He added: "We haven't heard promises to pay the PA money ... Even the Europeans said it clearly that they have paid their dues and can't pay more. And the Arabs don't seem to care."

The official noted that the Obama administration is unable to even transfer money to Egypt, whose stability is more of a priority for the United States. That move was blocked by a skeptical lawmaker who said she saw no immediate need for the cash infusion.

"There is no other option but to reexamine our internal sources" of revenue, the Palestinian official said. He doubted that the situation would improve much even after US elections.

Washington has warned European countries not to support the PLO's bid for "observer state" at the UN and threatened financial sanctions if the bid succeeds, according to reports.

The US staunchly opposed the PLO's 2011 bid for full membership of the UN, which failed to pass the Security Council, where Washington holds veto power.

The less-ambitious bid for "observer state" does not need approval from the Security Council and is likely to win the majority needed in the General Assembly.

PA state-building 'success story'

At the UN on Thursday, President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinian Authority had made impressive economic achievements, but said Israel remained a main obstacle.

"The Palestinian National Authority has affirmed ... the ability to create an advanced model for an effective, modem state through the development of the performance of its institutions, public finance management through the adoption of transparency, accountability and rules of good governance," Abbas said.

He said the achievements constituted "an impressive undertaking and success story," and noted recent commendation from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

But he accused Israel of impeding the work of the Palestinian Authority.
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