Photo: AFP
Refugee camp in Gaza - difficult to get funds in
Photo: AFP

International aid for Palestinians increases to $7.6 billion

PA minister of planning laments difficulty of fulfilling development plans in Hamas-controlled Gaza, despite willingness to allocate some 40% of new development budget to impoverished coastal territory

Total donations from a Paris aid conference for the Palestinians last month have increased to at least $7.6 billion after countries fine-tuned their contributions, officials said Thursday.


Overall international pledges from the Dec. 17 conference - which originally totaled $7.4 billion - have risen to $7.6 billion, a French Foreign Ministry official said. The Palestinian minister of planning, Samir Abdullah, put the figure at $7.7 billion.


The French official said he could not immediately explain the discrepancy, but both he and Abdullah said donors had clarified their pledges in recent weeks, and that the final figure could still change.


Abdullah said the Palestinian Authority has already begun receiving aid. The European Union transferred $44 million, France some $35.2 million, the United Arab Emirates paid $42 million, and Saudi Arabia paid $30 million, he said.


The minister, speaking to reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said the money has allowed his government to pay salaries to some 170,000 employees for January and part of February.


Abdullah said some 40% of the development budget would normally go to Gaza, but said his government would face tremendous hurdles in fulfilling its plans because of the closure of Gaza and Hamas' control of the Strip.


France has not specified how much money each donor gave at the conference, though the United States and many Arab League and EU member states - the biggest donors - individually announced their pledges.


The pledges, made over three years, topped the Palestinian Authority's own appeal for $5.6 billion and were seen by many as an endorsement of the authority and its push for an independent state. The funds are for budgetary support, development projects and humanitarian assistance by aid agencies.


פרסום ראשון: 01.17.08, 18:29
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