The Palestinian Authority faces a serious cash crisis after receiving only half of the aid money it needs to function every month, the International Monetary Fund said Monday, blaming delinquent Arab donors.Um, not quite, Samir. Arab donors don't want to waste their money.
At risk are the salaries of around 150,000 Palestinian civil servants, who support most families in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Many economic analysts say Arab donors are reluctant to pay up because of Palestinian infighting between Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah, which controls the West Bank, and the Islamic militant Hamas, which overran Gaza two years ago.
Arab donors believe if they withhold cash, it will pressure the two parties to reconcile, said Samir Hazboun, head of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce.
But IMF official Oussama Kanaan warned that everyday Palestinians are getting caught in the middle.Arab countries talk big about how they want to help their poor, oppressed Palestinian brethren. Every time the West suggests that perhaps they act like adults - silly little things like human rights and fighting terror - they respond that they can't do anything as long as the Palestinian issue isn't resolved.
"Arab donors should be aware that if they don't pay, they are not punishing one party or another. The average Palestinian will be hurt," he said.
The Palestinian Authority needs around $120 million dollars in aid to balance its monthly budget, but is receiving only around $66 million.
At a summit in 2000, Arab countries pledged to give around $50 million a month to the Palestinian Authority, but they have sent only $77 million altogether this year, Kanaan said, or a little more than a quarter of the amount they promised.
European countries and the United States have largely fulfilled their aid pledges, economists said.
The Palestinian Authority owes around $530 million to local banks in loans to make up the shortfall, said Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in a statement.
Kanaan said it was unlikely banks would keep extending credit to the Palestinian Authority.
Yet, when it comes to actually doing things to help the Palestinian Arabs themselves, all they have is words. They will give high-profile donations of ambulances to Gaza that cost little, but real economic help is left to the West.
The reasons remain the same as they were last year - the Arabs don't consider the Palestinian Arabs to be a good investment.
They value the PalArabs for their propaganda value and their ability to keep the heat off of their own regimes; a way to distract their own people from real problems, a way to blame Israel for all of their own shortcomings.
But they have zero incentive to actually help Palestinian Arabs live their lives in peace and prosperity. In fact, they have a incentive to keep Palestinian Arabs stateless and miserable.
It would behoove President Obama not to listen to the words of the Arab regimes when he visits Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but to look at their actions on behalf of Palestinian Arabs. Perhaps then he would realize that "settlements" is hardly the obstacle to peace - it is the Arabs themselves.