Arab League Pledges Financial 'Safety Net' to Abbas
Representatives of the Arab League, who met in Qatar’s capital Doha on Sunday, pledged to transfer a monthly sum of 100 million dollars to “the state of Palestine”. The money is meant to give the Palestinian Authority government under Mahmoud Abbas a “financial safety net.”
The exact form of the payment has not yet been determined, but Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi said after the meeting that 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.”
The PA currently faces its worst economic crisis since its founding, and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad warned several months ago that the entity may soon fail financially and cease to exist.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund warned in September that the PA faces a $400 million budget shortfall and risks “social upheaval.”
Recent protests over the economy in the PA prompted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to order the transfer of a 250 million shekel advance to the PA from tax revenues collected by Israel. In response to Abbas’s recent unilateral move at the United Nations, Israel has decided to withhold taxes collected for the PA.
AFP reported that during the meeting, Qatar called for a rethink of an Arab offer of normal ties with Israel in return for its pullout from Judea and Samaria.
"It is logical after 10 years to objectively reconsider the peace process, including the Arab initiative," said Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani, the country's prime minister, according to AFP.
He called for a "thorough look into developments in the region and the world, and to decide carefully on our future steps and roadmap."
Sheikh Hamad, who heads an Arab League follow-up committee, said the initiative tabled in 2002 by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by the Arab League would "not be on offer forever."
Abbas, for his part, told the meeting in Doha that he was opposed to a withdrawal of the offer, warning that it could lead to regional conflict.
"It is not permissible to talk about sidelining the Arab peace initiative. It should stay," he said, according to AFP. "It is a very important initiative, and I hope that we would not every time talk about shelving it, because that would mean war.
"Are we ready for war? Personally, I say I am not," he added.