Arab League chief, ministers to avoid Israeli borders to West Bank: Palestinian FM

Ahram Online , Wednesday 26 Dec 2012

Arab delegation will not pass through Israeli borders during their visit to West Bank territories to avoid confrontation with Israeli authorities, Palestinian FM says

A Palestinian girl receives communion from the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal (L) at the Church of St. Catherine, which is connected to the Church of Nativity, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Christmas day December 25, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

The Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said on Wednesday that the Arab League chief Nabil Al-Arabi, along with a group of foreign ministers, will not pass through Israeli borders during their expected visit to the West Bank on 29 December.


According to Palestine's Al-Ayyam Daily Newspaper, Malki said the Arab delegation would reach their destination through a flight coming from the Jordanian capital Amman to Ramallah to avoid direct confrontation with the Israeli authorities.  


"Israel will not be informed with the arriving ministers' list or even check their personal passports in order to ease their entrance to the West Bank territories,” he added.


The Palestinian senior negotiator Saeb Erakat said last week that Al-Arabi and between "eight to ten ministers" will join the Arab delegation in its visit to the West Bank town of Beit Jala, west of Bethlehem.


Erakat also said he expected the first payment of the fiscal "safety net" of $100 million, promised by the Arab League in the event of Israeli financial sanctions, following the 29 November Palestinian UN upgrade to observer-state status by "24 December."


He said on Wednesday, "We got a letter from Nabil Al-Arabi saying that they are committed to it, which enabled the government to take a $100 million dollar loan meaning we are going to have some salaries tomorrow and the day after." 


Palestinian Authority officials in the West Bank went on strike on Wednesday and Thursday in protest for not receiving payment.


Earlier this month, Israel announced it would not transfer tax and tariff funds it collects for the Palestinians but would instead use it to pay off a debt to the Israeli electricity company, after the successful Palestinian UN bid which they said was contrary to agreements between the sides.


Every month, Israel transfers approximately 460 million shekels ($120 million) in customs duties, which are levied on goods, destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports, and which constitute a large percentage of the Palestinian budget.


The transfers are governed by the 1994 Paris Protocols with Palestinians.

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