First installment of massive European Union aid to the PA for 2011 is announced, while US delays previously-pledged hundreds of millions of dollars for Israeli defense.
European Union foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton announced on Wednesday an initial 100-million-euro ($131.3 million) aid package to the Palestinian Authority for 2011. Sixty million euros will enable the Palestinian Authority “to cover wages and pensions for essential civilian workers, particularly medical and teaching staff,” Ashton said, and the remainder will be channeled through United Nations relief programs.
“This decision is a sign of the strong political and financial commitment of the European Union to the Palestinian Authority and to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s leadership in building a democratic and viable Palestinian state,” Ashton said, taking clear sides in the ongoing debate as to whether a Palestinian state is desirable for a peaceful settlement in the Middle East. “Palestinian statehood is critical for any peaceful, workable and lasting solution to the conflict.”
The latest aid will be added to 696 million euros already given by the EU to the PA, as well as another 265 million from individual EU member states.
At the same time, a special three-month budget for the United Stateshas been prepared – but is lacking promised funds for Israeli defense that U.S. President Barack Obama earlier pledged. The short-term budget is designed to keep the government afloat until a final budget is prepared.
Specifically, a promised $205 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense project has not been allocated. Similarly missing are increased allocations for other missile defense programs that the House of Representatives approved several months ago. U.S.officials said, however, that the funding would appear in the final national budget.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said that he would work to wean Israelfrom dependence of U.S.foreign aid.