Arab states have cut financial aid to the Palestinian Authority so far this year, prompting the United Nations to warn of a looming Palestinian cash crisis. According to Palestinian Finance Ministry figures, the PA has received $583.5 million so far in 2010 – only 22 percent of which was donated by Arab countries.
Over the last three years, the most that Arab states have donated in any one year was $525.9 million, contributed in 2008. Since 2007, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been the primary Arab contributors. But this year, both have fallen well short of previous support. By August, Saudi Arabia had paid $30.6 million compared to $241.1 million in 2009. The United Arab Emirates, which contributed $173.9 million in 2009, has yet to pay anything.
European food aid is delivered to Palestinians in Hebron.
Understandably, Western diplomats are growing frustrated at what they see as a failure by some Arab states to follow through with pledges made at a 2007 donors’ conference in Paris, while Europe and the United States have met their financial commitments made to the Palestinian people.
The Palestinian Authority relies heavily on international aid to pay employee wages and build institutions necessary for a future Palestinian state. As a weak governing body, the PA’s fall into a cash crisis could potentially spark Palestinian infighting, all at a time when direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are close to becoming reality. Indeed, for all the talk about wanting to help the Palestinian people and support a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, the Arab states are certainly falling short of doing their part.