Photo: Reuters
Abbas warns of 'grave economic crisis'
Photo: Reuters
Haniyeh: We're not scared
Photo: Reuters

Abbas: PA faces grave economic crisis

Palestinian leader arrives in Gaza for talks with Hamas' new PLC chairman, warns of an impending financial crisis due to American, Israeli freeze on money transfers to the PA; despite crisis, Abbas assures he won't give in to pressures and Israel's 'attempts to sidestep Palestinian voters' choice'

The Palestinian Authority is "on the brink of a grave economic crisis," Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas warned Sunday evening.


Israel's decision not to transfer the tax monies owed to the Palestinian Authority and the United States resolution to withhold its usual grant of USD 50 million from the Hamas government, would significantly affect the Palestinian economy, Abbas noted.


Speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting in Gaza with Hamas' newly elected chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council Aziz Dweik. Abbas said that the PA was faced with financial challenges anew every month, hinting at the salaries soon due to PA employees.


Despite the crisis and Israel's threatened economic sanctions, Abbas said that he would not give in to Israeli pressures, which he termed "a flagrant interference and Israel's attempt to sidestep the selection of Palestinian voters," by refusing to recognize the democratically elected Hamas leadership. Abbas promised that the PA would continue its efforts to overcome the financial difficulties it faced.


Hamas: Zionists don't scare us


Earlier, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ candidate to form the next Palestinian government, responded to Israel’s decision to freeze tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority, saying the Palestinians are not afraid of Israel’s actions.


“The punitive moves of the Zionists scare neither the Palestinian people nor the next Palestinian government. We dealt with difficult challenges in the past and we will be able to deal with these challenges,” Haniyeh said.


Haniyeh made his comments during a press conference at his house in the Shati refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.


He confirmed that Hamas gave him the nod to form the next government - a decision that pleased Hamas officials in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, in exile and in Israeli jails.


Haniyeh added that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to put Hamas in charge of forming the next government is “a big responsibility and I pray to Allah to help us bear this responsibility that the Palestinian people tasked us with; the sacrifices of our people will persist until we gain all the deprived rights of our great people.”


Haniyeh said his government’s priorities will include political, economic, internal security and reforms in Palestinian institutions. He said the new Palestinian government will be open to the world.

The appointed prime minister said Israel’s newly imposed sanctions are meant to harm the Palestinian people’s will to resist the occupation.


“The Israeli decisions are an attempt to hurt the democratic elections of the Palestinian people,” Haniyeh said.


Earlier, Palestinian Parliament Speaker Aziz Duaik rebuked the Israeli decision, saying “It is an erroneous decision and the Israelis need to reconsider.”


During the cabinet meeting on Sunday, the government voted on a series of recommendations drafted by the defense establishment regarding Israel's relations with the Palestinian Authority, in wake of the swearing-in of a Hamas-dominated parliament on Saturday.


The government approved five proposals concerning the PA in the meeting: A ban on transferring funds to the PA; imposing limitation on Hamas officials' movement; boosting inspections and upgrading the Karni and Erez crossings; preventing the transfer of equipment and assistance to the Palestinian security forces; and addressing the international community in a bid to prevent the transfer of funds to the PA interim government.


During the meeting, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Israel will not have any contact with a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.


פרסום ראשון: 02.19.06, 18:12
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