[QODLink]
Middle East

Arab states agree on aid for Palestinians

At meeting of Arab League ministers, Qatari PM brands the Quartet "a failure" and calls for rethink of peace process.
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2012 18:25

Arab League foreign ministers have agreed during a meeting to send hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority to make up for punitive measures imposed by the Israeli government after a successful bid for recognition at the United Nations.

The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly last month to recognise Palestine as a non-member observer state, an historic though largely symbolic move.

Israel responded by withholding some $100m per month in taxes and customs duties it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The Israeli government said the money will instead go to pay Palestinian debts owed to Israeli companies.

Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator from the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), an umbrella group of Palestinian political factions, said that Arab states agreed on Sunday in the Qatari capital, Doha, to make up for the shortfall.

"We agreed that Arab states activate a resolution of providing $100m per month," he said.

"The Qatari prime minister and the Arab League secretary-general will follow up the implementation of this resolution within two weeks."

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, had warned that the PA could collapse without the funds. Many of the authority's employees have not received their full wages for months. "We can't pay the salaries," he said.

'Reconsider the peace process'

Also at the meeting, Qatari officials called for a rethink of the so-called Arab Peace Initiative, a long-stalled 2002 initiative which offered normalisation with Israel in exchange for a withdrawal from the occupied territories and a "just settlement" for Palestinian refugees.

"It is logical after 10 years to objectively reconsider the peace process, including the Arab initiative," Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatari prime minister, said.

Hamad, who heads the Arab League's follow-up committee on the initiative, said the proposal "would not be on offer forever."

Abbas, for his part, told the ministers in Doha that he opposed withdrawing the plan, warning that it could lead to regional conflict.

"It is not permissible to talk about sidelining the Arab peace initiative. It should stay," he said.

"It is a very important initiative, and I hope we would not talk every time about shelving it, because that would mean war."

Hamad also criticised the Quartet on the Middle East, a diplomatic body made up of the US, the European Union, Russia and the UN, describing it as a "failure, and unable to make any achievements".

He called for a "re-evaluation of its performance".

405

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Frustration grows in Kiev as pledges to end corruption and abuse of power stagnate after Maidan Square protest.
Thousands of Houthi supporters have called for the fall of Yemen's government. But what do the Houthis really want?
New ration reductions and movement restrictions have refugees from Myanmar anxious about their future in Thailand.
US lawyers say poor translations of election materials disenfranchise Native voters.
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
join our mailing list