Washington receptive to Palestinian funding needs, US Aid official says
'It's important to support and back strong efforts of progress of people who are working for peaceful, prosperous solutions,' top US Aid official says ahead of London meeting with international donors who pledged $7.4 billion to Palestinian Authority
LONDON - The United States would look favorably on a request from the Palestinian Authority for more funds to plug a budget shortfall, the top US Aid official said on Thursday.
Henrietta Fore, administrator of the US Agency for International Development, is in London for a meeting on Friday of international donors who last December pledged $7.4 billion to the Palestinians over three years to support efforts to find peace in the Middle East.
The quartet of Middle East peace mediators—the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States—will also meet in London on Friday.
A report from the International Monetary Fund, released in advance of Friday's meeting, said the Palestinian Authority faced a $400 million budget shortfall in the second half of the year.
Asked if Washington would be amenable to a request for more money to help with the budget shortfall, Fore said: "Yes, we think that this is an important part of the world. It's important to support and back strong efforts of progress of people who are working for peaceful, prosperous solutions."
'Good solid financial progress'
At the December donors' conference in Paris, the United States pledged $555 million for Palestinians over the next year, including $150 million in budget support.
Fore said there was a problem with some countries not disbursing the funds they had promised in Paris.
"It is important that we keep up with the good progress of the Palestinian Authority and Prime Minister (Salam) Fayyad's government," she told Reuters in an interview.
"So no doubt we will focus (at Friday's conference) on making sure that governments and organizations that have made pledges are making good on their pledges, and in a timely fashion to be useful," she said.
Fore was due to hold talks with Fayyad on Thursday to hear about the situation first hand.
"From what we are seeing there has been good solid financial progress," she said. But the Palestinian Authority's needs had increased both because of the weaker dollar and because it was paying its bills more quickly, she said.
"So I'd like to look at that, I'd like to see what their financial needs are and what their progress is," she said.
She did not expect the United States to pledge new money on Friday however.
US Aid finances economic development, building of infrastructure and humanitarian aid in the Palestinian territories. US Humanitarian aid to Gaza, run by the Islamist group Hamas, is channeled mainly via through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).