PA to Receive $100 Million from Saudi Arabia
The Palestinian Authority, facing its worst financial crisis ever, will receive financial assistance from Saudi Arabia, it was announced Wednesday.
According to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency, the PA’s finance minister, Nabil Qassis, said that Saudi Arabia has pledged $100 million to the PA to ease the government's financial crisis.
Nabil Qassis told Ma'an that government employees would be paid as soon as the funds were received, but he said no date had been set for the transfer.
Qassis added that the PA had not yet received $26 million promised by Algeria.
Last month, the Arab League states pledged to pay the PA $100 million a month in a “safety net”, but have yet to deliver.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who has struggled to convince the Arab countries to deliver the monthly "safety net", thanked Saudi Arabia, a longtime benefactor to his government, for the funds.
"The state's budget is facing a large deficit as a result of the docking of Palestinian money by the Israeli government as a punitive step after the UN recognition of Palestine as an observer state," Abbas said in a statement quoted by Ma’an.
As he usually does, Abbas blamed Israel for withholding the tax revenues it collects for the PA as the source of the problem.
Usually, Israel transfers about $120 million in customs duties on goods destined for PA markets that transit through Israeli ports, and which constitute a large percentage of the PA budget. Israel decided to withhold the taxes for several months in a direct response to Abbas's unilateral move at the United Nations.
Ma’an noted that full salaries for public sector workers in the PA have not been paid in almost three months and government initiatives to increase revenue by collecting years worth of electricity and water bills from the public have been hampered by street protests.
The Saudi aid will make little progress toward lowering the government's debt of more than $1.3 billion to banks and hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid contracts to the private sector, the report said.
It should be noted that the PA, which has been screaming for foreign funds to stay solvent, spends six percent of its annual budget to pay $4.5 million a month to jailed terrorists and another $6.5 million to their families.
Recent reports indicated that the PA had granted jailed terrorists hefty pay hikes for murdering Israelis, with salaries higher for those with Israeli citizenship.