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Banks to lend PA $100 million

Dec. 19, 2012 6:50 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 28, 2012 12:09 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinian banks will lend the Palestinian Authority $100 million to see it through a financial crisis caused by Israeli sanctions, the Palestine Monetary Authority chief said Wednesday.

The PMA reached an agreement with bank representatives for the short-term loan that will be repaid when the Arab League delivers its promised financial security net, Jihad al-Wazir said in a statement.

The Palestinian Authority has already borrowed over $1.2 million from banks, al-Wizar said.

The cash advance would enable the government to make partial payments of late salaries, the finance ministry said.

Government employees in the West Bank began a two-day strike on Wednesday to protest against a delay in the payment of their wages caused by Israeli economic sanctions.

Israel is withholding about $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.

The Palestinian Authority was suffering a deep financial crisis even before the move, and has had to delay payments to its 153,000 public sector workers several times this year.

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

"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."

Government workers last received salaries for October, which were paid belatedly at the end of November.
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