The Quartet Committee, which includes the United States, Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union, agreed to provide assistance to the Palestinian people through a temporary international mechanism for a trial period.
The financial aid provided to the Palestinian Authority was cut off by the United States and the European Union after the Hamas party was sworn in on March 29 after winning the Palestinian legislative elections.
Some 165,000 Palestinian government employees, whose income supports one-third of Palestinian families, have not been paid for the past two months which significantly increased the humanitarian crises in the Palestinian area especially amidst the siege and closures imposed by Israel against the Palestinian residents.
Following and invitation from the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Quartet met in New York and approved the mechanism which will be temporal and will be responsible for transferring the aid directly to the Palestinians.
The Committee is expected to hold another meeting this night with the foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to discuss the ways to transfer financial aid to the Palestinians if the Quartet was not able to find a suitable way.
Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, told the Israeli Army Radio on Wednesday morning that Israel will not oppose the transfer of money as long as the aid bypasses the Hamas-led government.
Also, member of Knesset Sylvan Shalom said that the decision is “dangerous” and will lead Israel to “recognize the Palestinian government” while this government “will not be obliged to recognize Israel and renounce violence”.
Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyya, signaled suspicion over a new Quartet plan to channel temporary aid to the Palestinians, and hinted that the US, EU, UN and Russia could be trying to force Hams to recognize Israel without having Israel recognize the Palestinian right of independence.
Israeli online daily Haaretz reported that Israel welcomed the decision, although opposition critics said it could undermine economic pressure on the Hamas-led government.
According to Haaretz, the initiative is meant to bypass the Hamas government and pay the salaries of 165,000 civil employees who have not received their salaries since March.
Condoleezza Rice the U.S. Secretary of State, speaking to a news conference on Tuesday with other Quartet members following the aid decision, said that the international community is trying to respond to the needs of the Palestinian people and to provide them with the needed assistance.
UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, said the international mechanism that will be used to aid transfer has not yet been fully decided on, but it should begin as soon as possible, and will be reviewed after three months
Palestinian Chief Negotiator and senior aide to Abbas, Dr. Saeb Erikat, told Reuters that the Quartet’s plan did not go far enough to meet the immediate need of the Palestinians.
Arab foreign ministers made very clear if the Palestinian Authority collapses, the dangers of civil war increases, a senior Arab official talking from the condition of anonymity reported.
The official added that the money could be handled via a body such as the World Bank which could set up a special account for a limited period.
Also, foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan expressed concern that cutting off aid would lead to the financial collapse of the Palestinian government and will eventually lead the area into more violence.
Arab countries favor the French proposal to channel the funds through the World Bank, or for salaries through the office of Mahmoud Abbas to pay the salaries of P.A employees.
The United States thwarted an Arab suggestion to deposit the donor funds directly into the accounts of government employees.