Israeli online daily Haaretz interviewed Nigel Roberts, World Bank representative in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Roberts said that the Palestinian Authority is facing a crisis that could unable it, as early as next month, from paying the salaries of at least 130.000 officials and members of its security forces.
Roberts said that the Palestinian Authority (P.A) is on the verge of functional bankruptcy; its failure to pay the hundreds of thousands of employees will make them unable to buy their basis daily needs, which will directly affect thousands of suppliers and merchants who earn their living from the employees.
Also, Roberts added that this phenomenon is increasing and complicating the situation, adding that the five years he spent in the World Bank’s office in Al Ram neighborhood, north of Jerusalem, have been the worst form both the Palestinians and their Israeli neighbors.
According to statistics of the World Bank, unemployment rate in the occupied territories exceeds 20 percent, with a rate of about 30 percent in the Gaza Strip; over 40 percent of the residents in the southern part of the Gaza Strip are unemployed.
"The Palestinian government needs the continued assistance of the international community," Roberts stated, "and to secure that, it must begin to assume its responsibilities."
Roberts added that the P.A did not show responsibility when it raised salaries "at a time when resources are unavailable". He adds that this move forced the Bank, supported by the European Commission, to freeze %60 million for funding the P.A’s operational budget.
According to Roberts, this far-reaching step was taken because the Palestinians did not fulfill their commitments on budget control.
Roberts notes that the amount of assistance the P.A is getting – $5 billion in five years, or $300 per capita annually – is the highest granted to any entity since World War II, Haaretz reported.
Roberts said that the P.A must improve its performance to maintain the deep involvement of the donors, who want to guarantee that the money is not used to aid attacks against Israel.