The Palestinians have launched a fresh fund-raising drive, desperately seeking help – in the billion euro range. Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad is
on the first visit to Brussels by a member of the new national unity government. The EU boycotted the former Hamas-led administration.
Fayyad spoke said: “We are actually looking for external support to bridge a gap of nearly a billion euros for 2007. Of course this money will not only come from Europe, but the EU has supported us over the years and I thought it important to start to explain our needs here.”
The EU’s External Relations Commissioner cited crucial political conditions for the Palestinian Authority. She said: “I have made very clear that possible re-engagement would not mean resuming direct financial assistance overnight. From the Minister of Finances, on the top of it, we are looking for accountability and transparency.”
Benita Ferrero-Waldner said that a temporary aid system created to bypass the former Hamas-led government — because the Islamist militant group refused to recognise Israel or renounce violence — would remain for as long as necessary.
The EU increased its aid to the Palestinians to 700 million euros last year, paying subsistence
allowances to 150,000 families and keeping essential services going.