Interview: Palestinian Authority Needs Promised Arab League Funds to Operate

Interview published by Sputnik News 24/4/2019

The Arab League on Sunday pledged $100 million per month to the Palestinian Authority to offset deductions withheld by Israel over payments made to the families of Palestinian attackers and prisoners jailed by Israel for violence.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held emergency talks with the Arab League nations last week in Cairo, where he asked for economic aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA). This comes after Israel enacted the Deduction Law in February, that blocked tax transfers to the PA amounting to $138 million per month. In response to this, Abbas rejected all tax revenue payments transferred to the PA by Israel until Tel Aviv pays them in full, which has left the PA in need of extra financial support.

Professor Kamel Hawwash, a British Palestinian academic and writer and Chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign told Sputnik that the funds promised by the Arab League are necessary for the PA to continue to operate and for the anger in the streets of Palestine to partially subside: “This follows Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas requesting a safety net from the Arab League to help the PA meet its obligations following America’s decision to end all funding to the Palestinians, including the PA, UNRWA and even Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem. This would also cover Israel’s education (payments) from the taxes it collects on behalf of the PA, of the money it estimates the PA pays in welfare payments to the families of prisoners and those killed by Israel, whom the Palestinians consider martyrs.

The PA has already been making only partial payments in salaries, which has brought pressure on Palestinian households. The situation is unsustainable.” The Palestinian Authority said that it will never stop payments to the families of Palestinian prisoners or the families of slain attackers, and call it a form of welfare to the families of those who have lost their main breadwinner. Israel believes that these payments only encourage violence and has accused the Palestinians of sponsoring terrorists. “Israel is adamant that the PA must end its welfare payments to the families of prisoners and those they consider martyrs. Israel has been lobbying all its allies to end aid to the PA to pressure it to stop making these payments. However, the PA has been adamant that it will not end payments to the families. While Israel could act to stop transfers to the PA, it knows that further pressure on the PA could bring about its collapse and the end of security cooperation. This is something it values and is unlikely to force through,” the professor explained. The United States is set to unveil its long-awaited Middle East peace plan, known as the “Deal of the century”, in the coming months. Some experts say it will be revealed in June, after Prime Minister Netanyahu has had time to form his government coalition after being re-elected this month. Professor Kamel Hawwash believes that leaks suggest that Palestinian statehood does not figure into the plan and it’s unlikely that the deal will be accepted by the Palestinians.

“Trump’s peace plan is likely to be completely biased in favour of Israel; the actions already taken stand as proof. In recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s only capital, defunding UNRWA and recognising Israeli sovereignty over the illegally-occupied Syrian Golan and making no moves that favour Palestinians, the ‘peace plan’ is only likely to promise better economic conditions for Palestinians. The Palestinians have already promised to reject the plan and will ask their Arab and Muslim brothers to support them rather than pressure them to accept what they see as unacceptable,” the scholar concluded.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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