Thursday, January 19, 2006

EU announces more financial aid for Palestinian elections efforts

Note the following two articles sent in by Oded. (Thank you!) The first one states that financial aid will be given to the Palestinians, but if read carefully you will see that the aid is specifically for security measures and for the training of Palestinian customs officers.

The second article tells us that aid is being taken away from the Palestinians due to a withering economy, mismanagement of funds and Palestinian lack of ability to meet agreed benchmarks. I guess the question is whether it will be more or less difficult to meet economic benchmarks with heightened security preventing ease of trade between Israel and Palestine.

Mialy Clark (Iraq co-ordinator)



The European Union announced further financial aid for the Palestinians Monday, days before the January 25 Palestinian parliamentary elections.European Union external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who arrived Monday for a two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, signed an agreement for a further 1.4 million euros to help the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC) with voter registration and polling activities.The additional sum brings the total of EU support to the Palestinian elections to 18.5 million euros.

In a news conference in Ramallah with Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Qidweh, Ferrero-Waldner called the elections a "landmark event".New leaderships in both the Palestinian areas and Israel will be "ready and able to inject new vigour into the peace process," she said."The Gaza Strip is the key to progress," she added, announcing a three million euro aid package to upgrade the Gaza-Egypt border crossing of Rafah.

Half the money is for funding equipment including X-ray machines, metal detectors and computers, the other for training Palestinian customs inspectors.She also announced EU decisions to launch project worth more than 20 million euros to improve infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.Answering a Deutsche Presse-Agentur question on whether the EU would suspend financial aid to the Palestinian Authority if the radical Islamic Hamas movement joined the cabinet after the elections, she said, "We will work with any government that is ready to seek peace by peaceful means." Ferrero-Waldner did not meet Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who was in Kuwait although she was due to meet Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday.

Earlier, EU foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana said the bloc expected Israel to facilitate electoral operations, including the movement of candidates and officials as well as of local and international observers.The Palestinian Authority must also ensure the security of the electoral operations and safety of voters and candidates, he said. Solana repeated EU demands that all factions participating in the polls, including Hamas, must renounce violence, disarm and recognize Israel's right to exist."Those who want to part of the political process should not engage in armed activities as there is a fundamental contradiction between such activities and building a democratic state," he underlined.

The EU is deploying 237 election observers to "help build confidence in the electoral process and encourage Palestinians to exercise their democratic rights". Israel had originally threatened to ban East Jerusalem Palestinians from taking part in the elections, a threat which led the Palestinian Authority to warn that the poll could be cancelled. Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, but Israel, which captured it in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed it shortly afterwards, says East and West Jerusalem form part of its "undivided" capital.

1 comment:

William said...

There are enormous problems ascertaining what amounts of aid are being granted to the Palestinians. Europe had suspended virtually all aid other than security services money even prior to the election of Hammas. Japan gives a great deal of money but it is largely to non-government institutions these days. Saudi Arabia is probably the largest donor to the Palestinian Authority these days. Other Arab states give little or nothing. The USA gives very little (comparatively) at about $70 million. Most US money goes through USAID and is not granted to the government.
Most international press reports on this subject are entirely inacurate, implying that the West has cut aid because of the HAmmas victory. The Palestinian Authority was in economic crisis well before the Hammas success - and indeed the abscence of Western financial aid contributed considerably to that success.