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PA hopes December summits will activate 'safety net'

Jan. 9, 2013 6:20 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 16, 2013 1:31 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority hopes two regional meetings this month will see the promised Arab "safety-net" payments activated, a minister said Tuesday.

The government will again ask for the $100 million-monthly pledge to be implemented, as Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on Sunday and Saudi Arabia hosts a socioeconomic summit on Jan. 21, labor minister Ahmad Majdalani said.

Since early December, Israel has withheld around $100 million in monthly tax revenue it collects on behalf of the PA as punishment for the UN's acceptance of Palestine as a non-member state.

The Arab League states have agreed to cover the lost revenues, but have yet to deliver. Majdalani said Algeria had agreed to transfer $26 million, but it had not yet arrived in the Palestinian coffers.

The funding crisis has compounded a general drop off in donor funds during 2012. Public sector workers are striking this week and the next over delays in salary payments.

Majdalani said the government will not be able to borrow from the banks this month as they have exceeded agreed limits.

The banks lent to the Palestinian Authority in December based on a letter of guarantee from Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi, and are still waiting for repayments, he said.
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