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PLO official: US pressuring Arab countries to withold PA aid

Dec. 21, 2012 4:49 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 22, 2012 2:22 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Washington may be pressuring Arab countries not to send financial aid to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority, a PLO official said Friday.

Wasil Abu Yousef told Ma'an that US pressure was the only explanation for the slow response of Arab countries to the PA's financial crisis.The PA has yet to pay November salaries to public sector workers due to a cash crisis.

In March, the Arab League passed a resolution to provide a $100 million monthly safety net to the PA in the event of Israeli sanctions.

Israel is withholding $100 million in PA revenue as punishment for the UN's acceptance of Palestine as a non-member state, but Arab countries have not delivered the pledged money.

After a meeting in Doha, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi said a mechanism had been agreed to pay the money.

"The mechanism is that the chair of the committee (Qatar) and the secretary-general will contact each country with the exact amount they have to pay," al-Arabi told Reuters on Dec. 9. "I said I want an answer in 15 days," he added.

Abu Yousef, a member of the PLO's executive committee, said the situation in the West Bank could explode at any moment from the crisis, which he blamed on Israeli "piracy."

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund said in September that a gathering crisis in the Palestinian economy would worsen unless foreign funding increased and Israel eased long-standing curbs on development.

In a separate report, the World Bank also forecast a $1.5 billion Palestinian budget deficit for 2012, with donor funds expected to cover only $1.14 billion of this shortfall.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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