from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

On Palestinians, Pledges, and Budgets

July 4, 2011

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A fair measure of the dedication to the Palestinian cause on the part of Arab governments is whether they put their money where their mouth is. In that context, a news story today conveys an answer: "The Palestinian Authority will pay its employees only half their monthly salaries in July, the prime minister told reporters here on Sunday, because of what he said was ’the failure of donors, including our Arab brothers, to fulfill their pledges.’"

Donors had pledged $971 million to the Palestinian Authority this year, but the year is half over and only $330 million has been delivered. It turns out that only the UAE, Algeria, and Oman have met the pledges they made years ago via the Arab League. The rest, including the vastly wealthy Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, are delinquent. Despite the roughly $100 billion in extra domestic spending this year of the Arab Spring to buy off its populace, Saudi Arabia will record a budget surplus of about $25 billion. So the failure to assist the Palestinians is the product of hostility, neglect, or uninterest. By comparison, the EU significantly increased its aid to the PA this year, from 100 million to 185 million Euros, or about $275 million--and this does not count the assistance coming from individual member states of the EU. Total aid to the Palestinians from the United States runs about $600 million per year.

It is probably an exaggeration to say the Palestinians would be better off if instead of all those Arab pledges they got five dollars for every speech, TV or radio program, and newspaper article in Arabic that denounces Israel and swears eternal loyalty to the Palestinian cause. Or perhaps not.

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