Sunday, April 9, 2006
US & EU cut aid to PA - it amounts to a boycott against the Palestinian people
The Pressure exerted by the US and the EU, against the right of the Palestinians to choose their own government through democratic elections is continuing and worsening.
The decision on the part of the EU in suspending financial aid (see enclosure 1) to the Palestinian National Authority constitutes a grave violation, a brutal threat, a true and proper boycott.
Instead of recalling Israel to adhere to international law according to the decision of the International Court of Justice of 9th July 2004 on the Wall of Apartheid,
Instead of strongly demanding that the Israeli government end its military operations, targeted assassinations, incursions in refugee camps and checkpoints that are becoming true borders between the Palestinian Bantustans,
Instead of impeding that Palestinians be starved (see enclosure 2),
Instead of assuming an autonomous position to that of the USA,
The European Union:
Aligns itself to the American positions on “the global war of terrorism”
Sides with Israel and the USA
Is complicit with the war crimes that Israel continues to perpetrate against the Palestinians
ISM-Italy invites all to send a letter of protest to:
Javier Solana, Chief of Foreign Relations for the EU, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Elmar Brok, president EU foreign affairs commission, e-mail: EB_termin_eu@elmarbrok.de
Francis Wurtz, president European Left e-mail: email@example.com
cc ISM-Italia, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The following text may be used as a suggestion:
“I undersigned, …………., as a European citizen, ask that the EU not take against the Palestinian people such a grave decision like the one of cutting financial aid. This sort of decision is one that constitutes a grave violation, a brutal threat, a true and proper boycott.
I as a European citizen instead ask of the EU that it demand of the Israeli government about to be formed that it adhere to international law, international human rights norms, that it cease the illegal construction of the wall, end military actions and incursions against the Palestinian people, all of which are taking place against the deafening silence of the international community.”
Name, Surname, residence, passport number
U.S. cuts $300M in aid to PA; Hamas slams EU move to cut aid
By Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondent and News Agencies
WASHINGTON - The inter-agency review of American aid to the Palestinians was completed Thursday, resulting in the cut of some $300 million in aid to the Palestinians, according to a fact sheet distributed by the State Department.
According to the fact sheet, the administration will cut or suspend $45 million in direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority, $130 million in infrastructure projects (roads, water infrastructure, construction), $20 million in private enterprise development and revitalization, financial markets reform, trade programs, and information technology sector support, $17 million in electoral, political party, local government, and legislative support programs, $13 million in civil society development, $10 million in rule of law and judicial programs, $7 million in technical assistance and vocational training, $4 million in community policing, $165 million in ongoing and planned projects subject to further review.
The total cut will be a little bit more than $400 million, but the administration is planning to use $105 million in available funds from the projects that were canceled, as to "augment ongoing humanitarian and democracy building programs" - meaning the real cut will be around $300 million.
The U.S. and the European Union consider Hamas a terrorist organization and each bans official dealings with it. Hamas won parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories in January and it formed a government that took power this month. The U.S. began a review of its aid package to the Palestinians shortly after the election, and has already eliminated direct aid to the Palestinian Authority.
The U.S. has long channeled most of its assistance to the Palestinians through indirect means, to humanitarian efforts such as food, maternal and child health programs and education and also for projects that only indirectly benefited the Palestinian government. These include such projects as roads, water works and training programs for judges, electoral workers and others.
The U.S. will redirect about $100 million from canceled projects to humanitarian assistance, the official said. Some of the remaining pot of approximately $140 million will be eaten up in the process of ending or disengaging from those projects, but it is not clear where all the money will go.
The official said the State Department will consult with Congress on the next move. Congress has already approved all the spending under review, and has not yet considered how to apportion new money now that Hamas is in place.
Hamas slams EU move to halt aid
Hamas on Friday condemned a decision by the EU to freeze aid to its newly formed government and said the move would only make Hamas more popular.
"They are punishing the Palestinian people for practicing their [democratic] choice," Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said.
"This is a continuation of hasty decisions ... that will increase the suffering of the Palestinian people and provide a cover for the Israeli occupation."
The remarks were among the strongest Haniyeh has made against the EU, which regards Hamas as a terrorist group. He has previously urged European countries to sit down for dialogue.
The EU Commission said it had halted payments to the government because the new cabinet had not recognized Israel's right to exist or renounced violence. Hamas' charter officially calls for Israel's destruction.
"For the time being, there are no payments to or through the Palestinian Authority," Emma Udwin, a spokeswoman for the Commission, the EU's executive arm, said on Friday.
She told a news briefing the Commission was adopting a "policy of maximum prudence" which did not prejudge decisions by foreign ministers of the bloc when they meet on Monday.
"Unfortunately, we can't see any clear signal that would make it possible for us to continue financing [of the Palestinians] in the same way as we did in the past," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. "We have to prepare certain changes in the way of financing."
Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar said he would write to EU foreign ministers as early as Saturday.
"I am afraid it may wreck the credibility of the European Union in the Arab and Islamic world ... The conditions made in return for the aid were unjust," Zahar told Reuters.
Haniyeh, whose cabinet took office last week, said the EU's move would backfire.
"This decision will strengthen the Palestinian people's support for the government because they will feel the government is being targeted because it wanted to protect their rights," he said.
In an effort to try to talk EU and other Western nations around, Haniyeh said he would send some of his ministers abroad, although he gave no timeframe.
Besides the EU, the United States has ordered its diplomats and contractors to cut off contacts with Palestinian ministries.
EU diplomats said the aid freeze covered all direct aid to the Palestinian government and payment of public employees' salaries with EU funds through the World Bank, but not humanitarian aid through international and non-government organizations.
Zahar said he hoped the 25-nation EU might adjust its position at Monday's foreign ministers' meeting in Luxembourg.
The Hamas-led government is facing a cash crunch partly because of Israel's decision to halt the monthly transfer of tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
The shortage of funds has forced the new government to delay paying salaries to employees, including security forces. Hamas said this week it had inherited an authority that was more than $1.3 billion in debt.
Aid out of Hamas' reach
The United States has earmarked $234 million in aid to the Palestinians for 2006, none of it going directly to the Palestinian Authority.
The European Union and its member nations earmark about $615 million in yearly aid. A breakdown based on figures from the U.S. government, European governments and the European Commission:
UNITED STATES: Of the 2006 total, $150 million (-123.2 million) goes to construction, training government officials and other projects, plus $84 million in humanitarian assistance paid through the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION: $148 million in 2006, including $21.6 million in direct aid to the caretaker Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. It gave $345 million in 2005.
GERMANY: $76 million, plus $56.6 million given through nongovernmental organizations and UN agencies.
FRANCE: $73.9 million, including $30.8 million in direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, $6.2 million to the World Bank, $6.2 million to UN agencies.
BRITAIN: $61.6 million, half of which goes to UN agencies.
NETHERLANDS: $40.6 million, with $6.2 million of it going to the Palestinian government and the rest to UN agencies and aid groups.
SWEDEN: $30.3 million to UN agencies, plus $35.7 million given through NGOs.
ITALY: $27 million.
BELGIUM: $13 million.
DENMARK: $4.1 million.
FINLAND: $7.4 million - half to Palestinian Authority projects, the rest to UN agencies.
GREECE: $6.8 million, through aid groups.
IRELAND: $4.9 million in aid, of which $923,400 in direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, the rest via aid groups, UN agencies.
LUXEMBOURG: $3.7 million, through aid groups.
SPAIN: $2.5 million, to World Bank trust fund for the Palestinian Authority.
LATVIA, LITHUANIA, HUNGARY, ESTONIA, and CYPRUS: Combined total of about $876,000.No figures available from Austria, Czech Republic, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia.
There is no hunger in Gaza By Gideon Levy
Haaretz Last update - 08:35 09/04/2006
For the information of all the anxious: There is no hunger in the territories. No baby has died of malnutrition; no child is walking around with a swollen belly. There is no lack of flour, and from Rafah to Jenin rice is available. Let the tongue-cluckers relax: The talk about a "humanitarian disaster" is exaggerated. The international relief and aid organizations are trying in despair to cry "wolf," to alert the Israelis and the world and enlist them in the cause to save the Palestinian people, knowing that only exaggerated talk might move anyone. They might be right, but their calls are coming too soon, and also much too late.
The use of the term "humanitarian disaster" is actually proof of the dehumanization of the Palestinians. There's no flour? "Humanitarian disaster." There is flour? Then there's no disaster. There's an assumption that all the Palestinians need is a daily serving of food so they won't be considered disaster victims. It's enough that they have water and food in their troughs to conclude that their situation is fine. But human beings, including the Palestinians, have a few other basic needs as well.
The real humanitarian disaster in the territories began a long time ago, and it is not hunger. Those who regard the neighboring people as human beings know this very well. It is true that the dimensions of the disaster are worsening, but that's been taking place over years, and the food index is not the only measure. The cessation of the flow of funding since the rise of Hamas might threaten to depress the economic situation even further, but the thought that if they only have enough food, their needs will be satisfied and our conscience can be clear, is outrageous.
There's no need to waste words on the scope of poverty in the territories. Sixty-five percent of Gazans and 48 percent of the West Bankers now live under the poverty line, according to a UN report from last December, issued before the decision was made to freeze the transfer of their tax money to them. There is no need to be an expert in economics to understand that if 37 percent of Gazans with jobs - more than 73,000 people - were employed by the Palestinian Authority and now their livelihoods are threatened due to a lack of money to pay their wages, the situation will only get worse. Palestinian society, which has a very high level of solidarity, will know how to deal with that disaster. Because of the food handed out by UNRWA and the other organizations, there won't be hunger any time soon in Gaza, even if the number of those suffering from malnutrition does increase.
But even if they have bags of flour and rice, the living conditions of the Palestinians are chilling. They live in prison. Their daily routine includes humiliation that is no less terrible than malnutrition. Anyone who has to beg for permission to leave his village, to spend hours crowded in line at a checkpoint just to reach his destination, anyone whose bedroom is brutally invaded in the middle of the night by the occupation army, whose time and life is considered valueless, and whose basic human dignity has been trampled into dust, cannot find any consolation in the fact that flour and rice is available. Those who think that all it takes is providing a quota of flour to be free of any responsibility for the fate of the people they occupy, are suffering from a serious case of moral blindness. Does the fact that a Palestinian youth is not hungry in any way blunt the fact that he cannot dream, cannot aspire to a career, an orderly education, a vacation or simple pleasures of life? Does the fact that his belly is not completely empty cover up for the miserable present and the hopeless future?
The departure of Israel from Gaza does not remove a speck of the responsibility it has for the fate of Gaza's imprisoned residents. Israel, which forbids Gazans from going to the West Bank - a violation of signed agreements - and prevents the provision of supplies from both Israel and Egypt, has never left Gaza, not even for a moment. The world and people of conscience in Israel do not need to wait for the first Palestinian child to die of hunger to raise the hue and cry. Enough Palestinian children have been killed because of too easy trigger fingers or disgraceful health services. The responsibility is not with the international relief agencies, but on Israel's shoulders. But Israel's conscience in recent years operates only according to one index, the index of protest from Washington. If Washington remains quiet, everything can be covered up.
Those who have been silent until now can remain enveloped in their silence. Those whose conscience doesn't torture them and whose sleep is uninterrupted by Israel's behavior in the territories can continue resting in peace. There is no "humanitarian disaster." Israel will find a solution to the food crisis, and the stores in Gaza won't lack for flour. But those who regard the Palestinians as only requiring basic food should remember that even in the zoos, where the animals presumably don't lack for a thing, people are often shocked by the conditions of their imprisonment.