Palestinian Authority representatives, who arrived on Wednesday at the Arab League’s economic summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, came equipped with an armload of financial requests, mainly consisting of requests for donations of tens of millions of dollars aimed at investing in Jerusalem.
The PA had asked for a sum of $150 million, for projects in tourism and education in the neighborhoods of east Jerusalem. In addition to this amount, PA economists sought an additional amount of $200 million to stabilize the PA banking system.
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad explained about the projects and their importance. He spoke of the plight of Arabs living in Jerusalem and of the need to expand building and encourage tourism that will strengthen their economic position. Fayyad also spoke about trade and infrastructure projects in east Jerusalem, as though Israel is not the governing body in Jerusalem.
It should be noted that during speeches they made ahead of the summit, PA leaders made sure to emphasize the importance they see in the existence of Arab projects in Jerusalem, especially when it comes to initiatives that may undermine the Israeli legislation which they have defined as “Zionist, discriminatory, and harmful”. This means that PA leadership places particular importance on illegal activities in Jerusalem’s eastern neighborhoods.
However, as it turns out, the Arab world is in no hurry to donate money to the PA: Arab leaders have decided not to transfer any funds to the PA at the moment, and have deferred the decision on this issue to the next economic conference which will take place in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in 2013.
Meanwhile at the same summit, Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa warned that Arab leaders should learn a lesson from the uprising in Tunisia.
“It is on everyone's mind that the Arab self is broken by poverty, unemployment and a general slide in indicators,” he said, calling the events in Tunisia an example of the “big social shocks” that await Arab societies.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak also noted that rising food prices and unemployment could threaten the status quo in Arab nations.
In an opening address to the gathering, Mubarak said, “We are not isolated from the world with its problems, challenges and crises. Employment and creating employment opportunities will remain one of the most important challenges we face... We have priorities to achieve food security and combat climate change impacts.”