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      PA Seeking to Amend Paris Agreement

      Accusing Israel of using economic pressure as "political blackmail," PA officials are seeking to amend the Paris Agreement on funds.
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 10/5/2011, 8:17 PM

      Officials in Ramallah on Tuesday tacitly admitted their claims the Palestinian Authority would provide a solvent state for residents in its enclaves without US aid or Israeli cooperation were false.

      With international donors reneging on aid pledges the cash-strapped PA has been unable to pay its salaries and bills, a situation now acute amid repercussions stemming from PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas' insistence on seeking a unilateral declaration of statehood outside the Oslo framework at the United Nations.

      The freeze of a bloc of $200 million in aid dollars by US lawmakers and commensurate freeze in tax credit transfers by Israel has infuriated the PA who says Israel is "resorting to political blackmail" and now wants to amend the Paris Agreement which stipulates funding provisions for the PA.

      "President Mahmoud Abbas or the PLO will shortly issue a decree to set up a national committee of experts to review the Paris Agreement and assign another committee to negotiate an amendment to this agreement," Palestinian Economic Expert Nasr Abdul Karim, told Gulf News.

      "The Israelis need to differentiate between political and economic issues, the Paris Agreement is no longer practical for the Palestinians," he stressed.

      The Paris Agreement, however, operates under the aegis of the Olso Accords, which both Israeli and PA officials have threatened to scrap in recent months amid the growing row over the PA bid at the UN - a direct violation of the Oslo Accords' proscription on unilateral moves by either party.

      Additionally, observers note Israeli displeasure with Abbas' antics at the world body - also described as "political blackmail" and a "propaganda stunt" by officials in Tel Aviv - makes amending the Paris Agreement highly unlikely.

      Nor, observers say, does Israel have any incentive to sacrifice a powerful bargaining chip it can use to force PA officials back to the negotiating table.