Aid cuts will hit Palestinians

Out with the old, in with the new: Yasser Arafat’s Fateh party was crushed by Hamas in last week’s legislative elections (Magnus Johansson/Ma’an News)

After Hamas’ victory in last week’s elections, foreign donors have warned the Palestinian Authority it could face aid cuts, plunging the population further into crisis.

The so-called Quartet Powers – the European Union, US, Russia and the United Nations – said on Monday that a new Hamas-led government must commit to non-violence, recognise Israel and accept current peace agreements, or it could lose the financial support it receives from the international community.

The Israeli government says it also wishes the new administration to accede to these same demands and has suspended the payment of taxes and custom duties owed to the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Israel says the tax revenue payments, amounting to $55 million per month, may be resumed when a ‘policy review’ has been completed. This is a vital source of Palestinian income and essential if the PA is to move towards a sustainable budget.

The EU gave around £338 million in aid to the PA in 2005 – cash which funded education and health services.

Christian Aid is deeply concerned about the potentially crippling effect on Palestinian household economies if this aid was cut.

Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories is the main cause of Palestinian poverty. While aid is a necessary lifeline for the Palestinians, it can only address the symptoms of the occupation rather than bring about a lasting solution to poverty.

Without a political solution, an end to the 39-year-long Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, an accountable Palestinian government, cessation of violence and long-term external assistance, Palestinian dependency on emergency relief will grow as poverty deepens.

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