Qatar Pledges $50M to Palestinians

Published April 17, 2006

| Associated Press

Qatar said Monday it would give the Palestinian government $50 million in aid to help make up for a shortfall after the United States and the European Union cut off funding.

The official Qatar News Agency said the funds were offered to "bolster the budget of the Palestinian authority based on the decision of the Arab summit held in Khartoum" in March.

On Sunday, Iran said it was sending the same amount of money to the Palestinians to help fund the Hamas-led government.

The United States and the European Union have cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority following Hamas' victory in legislative elections in January, demanding the group renounce violence and recognize Israel.

The United States and EU consider Hamas a terrorist organization.

Hamas has asked Arab countries to provide funds. But despite promises to give the authority $55 million a month, Arab nations have not given any money since the Hamas election victory.

Washington has been pressuring Arab countries not to give money, and some governments are wary of seeing the Hamas government succeed, fearing it will inspire other militant groups.

Up until the Hamas victory, the Palestinian Authority had received about $1 billion in aid from the West. Israel also has halted the monthly transfer of about $55 million in taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians.

The Palestinian government already is two weeks late in paying March salaries for its 140,000 employees, and it is unclear when it will have the needed funds. The Palestinian Authority is the largest employer in the West Bank and Gaza, sustaining about one-third of the population.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2006/04/17/qatar-pledges-50m-to-palestinians