EU Provides 15 Million Euros to PA Amid Ongoing Financial Woes

EU headquarters in Brussels.
EU headquarters in Brussels.

Ramallah, 26 Rajab 1437/04 May 2016 (MINA) – The European Union is contributing 15 million euros (approximately $17,332,500) to the Palestinian Authority (PA) to assist in the payment of salaries for April, according to a statement by the head of the EU delegation to the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Ralph Tarraf said in the statement that the assistance would provide salaries for 66,000 retired civil servants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Ma’an was quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

Addressing the PA’s financial difficulties, Tarraf highlighted the payment assistance as evidence of the EU’s commitment to Palestinian institutions, while noting the importance of securing “the necessary services to the Palestinian people.”

Tarraf also underscored the importance of supporting “strong and transparent” Palestinian institutions to maintain opportunities for the two-state solution.

The Palestinian Authority regularly fails to pay its government employees throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, leading to numerous strikes and protests among government workers.

In early March, around 50 PA government employees stormed the PLO’s Office of Refugee Affairs in the Gaza Strip to protest their missing salaries.

Salaries for the Hamas government’s employees has been one of the major disputes between Hamas and the PA, especially after the two rival factions agreed to back the creation of a unity government in June 2014.

Most of the Hamas government employees have gone without pay for months, by some estimates receiving only 40 percent of what is owed to them.

The Israeli military occupation has exacerbated the financial difficulties of the PA, with the Israeli government deducting at least three percent of all PA taxes on exports and imports, amounting to 350 million shekels (approximately $93,216,508) annually, and taking a significant portion of the travel tax paid by Palestinians leaving the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge Crossing into Jordan

Israeli authorities also suspended the PA’s tax revenue, which Israel collects on behalf of the PA, for four months last year in retaliation for seeking membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC) to pursue charges of war crimes against the Israeli government. Previously, the Israeli government seized taxes from the PA for months following the call for a vote for Palestine to be given “non-member observer State status” at the United Nations.

The Israeli occupation has crippled the private sector economy in the occupied territory, resulting in an unusually high reliance on public sector employment and public stimulus of the private economy, according to the Palestinian human rights organization al-Haq, resulting in severe disruptions of public institutions and civilian life during episodes of financial difficulties which regularly plague the PA.

According to a report released last year by the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), the Israeli occupation costs the Palestinian economy an estimated $9,459 million annually. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)