RAMALLAH, West Bank – The United Arab Emirates has transferred $80 million in aid to the Palestinians, using a new account controlled by Finance Minister Salam Fayyad, officials said Saturday.
Fayyad, an independent, set up the account in the name of the PLO, the Palestinians' political umbrella group. The Islamic militant Hamas is not part of the PLO, thus allowing banks to transfer aid money without running afoul of U.S. anti-terror regulations.
Hamas and the Fatah movement of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas formed a coalition in March, with the goal of ending a foreign aid boycott imposed when Hamas first came to power more than a year ago. However, many countries have said they would not resume direct aid payments to the Palestinian government, because Hamas refuses to renounce violence and recognize Israel.
Arab countries and several other donor nations, including Norway, have not joined the boycott. Fayyad established the PLO account to enable these donors to transfer funds. In recent weeks, Qatar send $44 million, Saudi Arabia transferred $50 million and Norway gave $10 million.
On Saturday, the United Arab Emirates sent $80 million, the largst transfer so far, said Abbas aides who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss money issues with reporters.
Much of the money will be spent on covering the government payroll, and civil servants are to receive half their May salary in coming days, the aides said.
The Palestinian Authority is the largest employer in the West Bank and Gaza, and government salaries help provide for about one-third of the Palestinians. During the boycott, civil servants only received partial salary payments.