Mideast: Israeli halt to funds unacceptable, PA mayors

Salaries going unpaid, Israelis 'must comply with agreement'

16 January, 17:40

(ANSAmed) - BRUSSELS, JANUARY 16 - The Israeli halt to the payment of funds earmarked for the Palestinian Authority is ''unacceptable''. This was stated in no uncertain terms today in Brussels by Hani Al-Hayak, the head of the Palestinian local authorities association, in his opening remarks at the sustainable development commission of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM).

In Al-Hayek's words, ''the occupation forces are using these resources as they see fit, in violation of international agreements''. As a consequence, local authorities find it difficult to ''pay public officials, teachers and doctors. And we don't have a way out of the problem, since we are occupied,'' said the Beit Sahour mayor.

He then addressed European politicians in saying that ''we are asking our Western friends to enable us to meet our obligations.'' Al-Hayak said that ''the settlements are being built in a systematic manner, jeopardising the two-state solution and the lives of the local population.

On this matter, the European Commission has recently decided to speed up the unfreezing of 100 million euros in aid for the Palestinian population, 60 million of which will go to the Palestinian Authority by way of the Pegase mechanism and 40 million to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. Today in Brussels the Beit Sahour mayor also expressed the hope that an ARLEM (which gathers together representatives of local authorities from both the northern and the southern Mediterranean) meeting would soon be held in Bethlehem.