Saudi to send cash-strapped Palestinians $100 million

Thursday 17 Jan 2013

Saudi finance minister tell Palestinian president Abbas the kingdom will transfer $100 million to the budget of the state of Palestine

Saudi Arabia will send the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority $100 million to help alleviate its financial crisis, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

In a report late Wednesday, the agency said that president Mahmud Abbas received a call from Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf who "informed him of a decision by King Abdullah... to transfer $100 million (75 million euros) to the budget of the state of Palestine."

Abbas thanked King Abdullah for the "generous gesture."

The decision comes "at a time when the state budget is suffering from a severe deficit due to the Israeli government's seizure of Palestinian funds as punishment for Palestine becoming a UN non-member observer state."

The Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank, has faced a severe economic crisis in recent months, which has only deepened with Israel's decision to withhold the tax and tariff revenues it collects on the PA's behalf.

The decision came in response to the Palestinians' successful bid for upgraded UN membership, a move fiercely opposed by Israel and the United States.

In response, the Palestinians urged Arab nations to activate a "safety net" of $100 million a month to make up the shortfall.

But despite pledging to deliver the money, funds have yet to materialise, leaving the PA unable to pay its thousands of government employees, who are still owed half their salaries from November and all their salaries from December.

The late salary payments have led to strike action by government workers, who say they cannot even afford to travel to work, and are currently taking at least two days a week off in protest.

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