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Spokeswoman: PA will try to pay partial salaries next week

Dec. 19, 2012 5:40 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 21, 2012 5:38 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority will try and pay half November salaries to government employees next week, a PA spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Finance is working with the Palestine Monetary Authority to borrow money from Palestinian banks in order to pay public sector workers between 1,500 and 4,000 shekels ($400-$1,070) early next week, Nour Odeh told Ma'an.

Around 153,000 government employees are waiting to receive November salaries because of Israeli economic sanctions.

Israel is withholding some $100 million in monthly customs revenues it collects on the Palestinians' behalf as punishment for their successful bid at the UN General Assembly last month to gain de-facto statehood recognition.

Around 50,000 workers went on strike Wednesday. West Bank security forces, a pillar of security and cooperation with Israel, and staff in the Gaza Strip did not participate.

"This strike is against Israel's piracy," said Bassam Zakarneh, chief of the government employees' union said.

"The situation is very grave, and the services to the people are much reduced by the strike," he said. "(People) can't even afford transportation to their workplaces."

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Israel's sanctions put around a million Palestinians "in the cycle of poverty."

"We're talking about doubling the rate of poverty in Palestine during a maximum period of two months from today if the situation continues as it is," Fayyad told Reuters on Monday.
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