AFP/File Photo: A Palestinian leans on sacks of flour donated by the European Union (EU) in Gaza…Â
The bleeding hearts of Eurabia support ongoingÂ Pali-terrorÂ
by Nasser Abu Bakr AFP
The European Union on Monday resumed aid to the Palestinian finance ministry for the first time since the West launched an economic boycott of the government more than a year ago.
The assistance begins with a four-million-euro (about five-million-dollar) project to help ensure that Palestinian taxpayers’ money is spent efficiently and that expenditures are accounted for.
“Minister of finance Dr Salam Fayyad and European Commission representative John Kjaer today signed a memorandum of understanding which relaunches European Union assistance to the ministry of finance,” the European Commission said.
“The European Union’s first step will be a four million euro project to help the minister of finance in ensuring that Palestinian taxpayers’ money is spent efficiently and that all expenditures are accounted for to the highest international standards,” it added.
The European Union, one of the biggest Palestinian donors, suspended direct aid to their government after Islamist movement Hamas — blacklisted by the West as a terrorist organisation — took office in March 2006.
The European Commission has now decided to renew direct assistance to the ministry after Hamas formed a national unity government in March and with the appointment of Fayyad, a political independent and widely respected economist.
Under the project launched on Monday, the four million euros will be paid in instalments until June 2009 and training will be provided in both the Ramallah and Gaza City offices of the finance ministry by accountancy firm Ernst & Young.
“This support for the ministry… will help me ensure that we work in accordance with the best international standards, and that the government can give every Palestinian taxpayer the assurance that their money is being legally and honestly spent,” Fayyad said in a statement.
With this programme, “the EU is resuming its support of the Palestinian Authority in a direct manner by the finance ministry,” Fayyad said in a press conference after the signing.
Despite the freeze on direct aid, EU aid in 2006 — extended indirectly through a mechanism that avoided the Hamas-led government — increased on the previous year to reach around 700 million euros (934 million dollars).
In a report published in March, the International Monetary Fund found that much progress achieved in years prior to 2006 to strengthen the finance ministry’s control over government finances and increase transparency was lost.
Kjaer praised Fayyad and his team for achieving “remarkable results in exceptionally difficult circumstances” and called on Israel to pay money owed to the Palestinians in the form of tax receipts withheld since early 2006.
“I take the opportunity to recall that the European Union continues to call on Israel to transfer to the Palestinians the money that Israel collects on their behalf,” he said in a statement.
And Fayyad warned that the PA’s economic hardships will not be resolved until Israel releases hundreds of million of dollars in custom duties that it has withheld following Hamas’s legislative victory in January 2006.
“We call on Israel to transfer the money as rapidly as possible,” he said.
Israel collects the funds on behalf of the Palestinian Authority on goods routed through Israel and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat says the total amount of money currently owed is 600 million dollars.
Israel transferred 100 million dollars owed after a summit between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas last December.
* Supporting your enemy will do what exactly?