International donors are making progress toward finding the $1.2 billion needed to help fund the Palestinian Authority this year as it faces up to very difficult economic problems, officials said Tuesday, according to an AFP report.
"We did achieve some more donations so it seems we are close" to the target, "which is good news", said Norwegian Foreign Minister Epsen Barth Eide after talks with donors also chaired by EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton.
"We are getting there ... I am reasonably optimistic that we are getting closer," Eide said, according to AFP.
The PA’s prime minister, Salam Fayyad, expressed "satisfaction" at the outcome of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting of donors.
As he has done in the past, Eide hinted that Israel was to blame for the PA’s financial crisis, calling on Israel to ease restrictions on the PA so as to allow it to continue to reform, and the donors to continue to donate.
The meeting emphasized the importance of restarting the stalled peace process, based on the two-state solution, after two years "marked by a fading political horizon for ending the conflict", a closing statement said.
The PA "economy and public finances have deteriorated further as the economy is hobbled by persisting restrictions and increasing political uncertainty", it added, according to AFP.
Earlier, Ashton said the EU would contribute 300 million euros to the aid package, the same amount as last year.
Before the meeting, she signed a seven-million-euro aid deal with Fayyad to bolster ties and promote economic development.
Ashton told Fayyad that an action plan approved by EU leaders was based on a "shared commitment to deepen our bilateral relations and strengthen our privileged partnership.”
The relationship was based on a commitment to a Palestinian state, sustainable economic development, fiscal consolidation and "enhancing social cohesion throughout Palestine", she said.
On Monday, the Palestinian Authority urged the world to step up financial aid and press Israel to allow for its economic development.
"We call on the international community to ... pressure the government of Israel to release our revenues and to provide the financial support required to maintain basic functions and services," said a PA report.
On January 30, after PA Arabs rioted against Israeli security forces throughout Judea and Samaria, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu instructed Israeli authorities to transfer the PA its tax revenues for January, "so that they won't have an excuse not to enforce calm on the ground."
The tax revenues were frozen last year after the entity unilaterally went to the United Nations and achieved the status of a non-member observer state, directly violating the Oslo Accords.
Fayyad has several times warned the entity may soon fail financially and cease to exist because of its financial crisis, considered to be its worse since its founding.
In December the Arab League states pledged to pay the PA $100 million a month in a “safety net” and, while some of them delayed the payment, the PA has continued to blame Israel for the financial crisis.