Australia ends direct aid to Palestinian Authority

Australia allocated A$43 million for humanitarian assistance in the region for the current fiscal year, which began on July 1. Above, children play in the Palestinian village of Susya, southeast of Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in this 2016 photo. (AFP)
Updated 02 July 2018
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Australia ends direct aid to Palestinian Authority

  • Australia had cut funding to the World Bank’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund for the Palestinian Recovery and Development Program
  • Australia allocated A$43 million for humanitarian assistance in the region for the current fiscal year, which began on July 1

CANBERRA, Australia: Australia said Monday that it has ended direct aid to the Palestinian Authority because Australian donations could increase the self-governing body’s capacity to pay Palestinians convicted of politically motivated violence.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia had cut funding to the World Bank’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund for the Palestinian Recovery and Development Program after writing to the Palestinian Authority in late May seeking assurance that Australian funding was not going to Palestinian criminals.
“I am confident that previous Australian funding to the PA through the World Bank has been used as intended. However, I am concerned that in providing funds for this aspect of the PA’s operations there is an opportunity for it to use its own budget to (fund) activities that Australia would never support,” Bishop said in a statement.
“Any assistance provided by the Palestine Liberation Organization to those convicted of politically motivated violence is an affront to Australian values and undermines the prospect of meaningful peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” she added.
Australia’s A$10 million ($7.4 million) donation to the trust fund will now be re-routed to the United Nations’ Humanitarian Fund for the Palestinian Territories which provides vulnerable Palestinians with health care, food, water, improved sanitation and shelter.
Australia allocated A$43 million for humanitarian assistance in the region for the current fiscal year, which began on July 1.
In March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US government for passing a law that suspended some financial aid to the Palestinians over the stipends paid to families of Palestinians killed or jailed in fighting with Israel.
The Taylor Force Act, named after an American killed in Israel by a Palestinian in 2016, was folded into a $1.3 trillion spending bill signed by President Donald Trump.
Netanyahu called the law a “powerful signal by the US that changes the rules” by cutting “hundreds of millions of dollars for the Palestinian Authority that they invest in encouraging terrorism.”
The Palestinians say the families are victims of violence. Palestinian official Nabil Abu Rdeneh condemned the law, saying it doesn’t “allow for the creation of an atmosphere conducive to peace.”
Australian government lawmaker Eric Abetz welcomed Bishop’s stance.
“Minister Bishop’s strong and decisive decision today to ensure that the Palestinian Authority can no longer use our aid to free up money in its budget for state-promoted terrorism is very positive,” Abetz said.
“It is vital that we ensure that our foreign aid is not being spent on, or making money available for, the promotion of terrorism and so funneling our aid to the Palestinian Territories through the United Nations will provide greater assurance that the Palestinian Authority’s clever accounting cannot occur,” he added.


UN's Mladenov urges Israel and Palestine to calm tensions, work toward a solution

Updated 2 min 2 sec ago
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UN's Mladenov urges Israel and Palestine to calm tensions, work toward a solution

NEW YORK: United Nations’ Nickolay Mladenov used a Security Council address on Tuesday to call on the international community to urge Israel and Palestine to calm tensions following an escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip on Monday.

He also urged Israel to exercise restraint and not to use force without the need for it. Mladenov said there was no alternative to the two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that only the political will of Israel and Palestine can work toward a solution.

The UN's Middle East envoy  condemned the firing of a rocket from Gaza into Israel, and the subsequent Israeli retaliation. He tweeted Monday that the UN was working "intensely" with Egyptian mediators and "all sides" to stave off a looming escalation but that "the situation remains very tense."

Efforts by Egypt and the UN to restore a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers have stopped numerous explosions of cross-border violence in the past.

More to follow.