Israel, with the tacit backing of the U.S. has been tightening the noose around the Palestinian economy using the pretext of Hamas’ upcoming assumption of control of the Palestinian Authority. All I can say is thank God there are alternative international forces which aren’t bound by Israel and the U.S.’ draconian notions.
The NY Times notes that the EU has responded positively to James Wolfensohn’s urgent request (on behalf of the Quartet) for emergency funding to prevent the PA from imminent collapse:
After receiving a dire warning that the Palestinian Authority was so short of money that it might collapse in two weeks, the European Union on Monday offered $144 million in aid to the Palestinians before a Hamas government takes power.
The Europeans acted in partial response to a letter from James D. Wolfensohn, the special Middle East envoy of the so-called Quartet made up of the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.
Mr. Wolfensohn warned in a letter dated Saturday that “unless a solution is found, we may be facing the financial collapse of the P.A. within two weeks,” referring to the Palestinian Authority. The money from the European Union will not solve the Palestinian money crunch for very long, especially since most of it is not in cash, but it will ease the burden of repayments to suppliers.
And other nations have stepped up to the plate too:
…The Saudis have promised but not yet delivered $20 million for February, the Norwegians have promised another $10 million and Qatar has delivered $14 million, which has already gone to repay loans taken in January in anticipation of the donation.
Wolfensohn also notes the need to address the Palestinians’ long-term financing requirements so they will not have to beg each month for the funds to get them through the next month:
“If we do not want to see rising tension leading to violence and chaos,” Mr. Wolfensohn wrote, “we will have to develop urgently a convincing strategy addressing the P.A.’s financial and developmental needs not only in the short-term of the next few weeks but also in a longer time frame.” That includes the revenues withheld by Israel, he said, adding, “It cannot be in Israel’s interests to have a sharp deterioration of the economic and humanitarian situation next door.”
You’d think the sentiment in the last sentence of that paragraph would be self-evident to the Israelis. But they’ve never been ones to think in the broader or long-term context about the problems of their region. And as far as they’re concerned they live alone with no neighbors to speak of. At least, that’s they way they’d prefer it. But reality has a way of jumping and biting you in the ass when you try to maintain such a segregated existence.
The funding we’re speaking of is short-term financing which will only get the Palestinians through the coming weeks. Then it’s back to the drawing board. U.S. and Israeli policy only ensure that the Palestinians will continue to move from one crisis to the next. You might almost get the impression that both nations (though especially Israel) prefer it that way.