Coordinating with Israel, European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner has been in Jerusalem to discuss setting up mechanisms to get international aid to the Palestinians.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni refused to comment on the EU funding plan but, at a press conference, she referred to the political deadlock which set in after the Hamas party won Palestinian elections in January:
“Stagnation is not the Israeli government policy. We believe that it is a part of our responsibility to the Israeli people to initiate new ideas in terms of
promoting this vision of a two-state solution.”
Fearing a humanitarian crisis amid inter-factional violence in the cash-strapped Palestinian territories, the EU has proposed contributing 100
Passing demonstrators who were demanding their salaries outside a meeting in Gaza city, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said: “We understand our people’s needs: We call upon the whole world, the American administration, the Europeans, the Arabs and Muslims to support the Palestinian people.”
The money is being projected to start flowing next month – maybe.
No donor money would go through the Hamas-led government, which faces an international aid boycott over its refusal to recognise Israel and renounce violence.
Western diplomats said it could take several months to draw up an eligibility list free of Hamas members.
Other hurdles include opening personal bank accounts for all the beneficiaries.
The health sector is the EU’s top priority, although Palestinian officials have warned that paying only a segment of the work force could cause tension.