January 13, 2013 - 1:00am


A senior Palestinian official on Sunday called on Arab states to immediately act to rescue the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) from a severe financial crisis and unprecedented economical and political challenges.

Ahmed Majdalani, PNA minister of labor, told Xinhua in a special interview that if the PNA budget is not backed or supported, there will be a comprehensive collapse of all the services the PNA offers to the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

"The Arab states must act immediately and back the budget," said Majdalani, referring to an emergency meeting participated by Arab foreign ministers and PNA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Cairo on Sunday to discuss the PNA's crucial financial situation.

"Fayyad is to present a full report on the dimensions of the financial crisis and its consequences on the Palestinians. The prime minister will also call on the Arab states' leaders to bear their responsibilities and help implement previous Arab League summits' decisions," said Majdalani.

The Arab foreign ministers' meeting was held upon the request of Lebanon to also discuss the situation of thousands of Palestinian and Syrian refugees who fled to Lebanon due to the ongoing conflict between the Syrian regime and opposition forces.

"The financial crisis is mounting and unprecedentedly growing. The needs are growing amid heavy challenges that would soon disable the performance of the Palestinian institutions and establishments, mainly in the fields of health and education," said Majdalani at his office in Ramallah.

He went on saying that "these challenges are also influencing the Palestinian security apparatuses as well as its abilities to control the security situation in the West Bank, which means that the situation is extremely difficult," adding that "this needs an urgent Arab intervention."

Majdalani also stated that the PNA urgently needs 240 million U. S. dollars to fulfill its commitments, mainly paying salaries to its employees, security and civil servants. He sounded pessimistic about obtaining any urgent Arab financial support.

"It has become very clear that rescuing the PNA budget and putting an end to the financial crisis is completely political," said Majdalani, referring to a shortage in the PNA budget that reached more than 1 billion dollars due to the lack of foreign aids.

After the United Nations upgraded the Palestinians' representation to a non-member observer state on Nov. 29, 2012, Israel announced that it decided not to transfer tax revenues, collected by Israel from the Palestinian trade on behalf of the PNA, to the PNA.

At the end of 2012, Fayyad's government borrowed 100 million dollars from local banks in the Palestinian territories to pay 50 percent of its employees' salaries. The last Arab League Summit held last year in Baghdad decided to back the PNA, but the decision hasn't yet come to be active.

The Arab states decided to permanently transfer 100 million dollars to the budget of the PNA to pay the salaries and cover its running costs, but the decision was not activated except when Algeria paid its share two months ago which reached 26 million dollars.

"Arab states must deal with the financial crisis of the PNA with more responsibility because time is running out and it doesn' t serve our interests, as more delays would have more negative consequences on the situation in the Palestinian territories," said Majdalani.


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