Palestine still face $400 million shortfall, Norwegian PM

Palestine face a $400 million shortfall in the 2009 budget under Israeli heavy blockade in recent months, Norwegian PM Stoltenberg said.

Palestine still face $400 million shortfall, Norwegian PM

Palestine face a $400 million shortfall in the 2009 budget under Israeli heavy blockade despite increased financial aid from international donors in recent months, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

"We note that there has been increased funding coming to the Palestinians, that's on a positive note," Stoltenberg told reporters at the United Nations.

"But on the negative side there is still a shortfall of $400 million in the Palestinian budget which needs to be addressed," added Stoltenberg, who heads the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee that tracks aid to the Palestinians.

He said the increased support came after a meeting of international donors in June in Oslo.

Donor states have announced massive pledges for the Palestinians over the last two years.

To offset the shortfall in donor funds, Abbas' Palestinian Authority has been forced to borrow from private banks.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, now a Middle East envoy, urged Israel to ease its blockade on the Gaza Strip and allow legitimate inflows of funds, a move he said could help push forward the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

"We've had limited success in getting money in from time to time," Blair told the news conference. "It is incredibly important for legitimate business in Gaza that we get the money in.

"It very important to get money in and to get materials in to start building Gaza up. That enables legitimate business to be done by legitimate business people and ordinary people in Gaza."

Israel launched on Dec. 27 a massive offensive in Gaza, killing more than 1434 Palestinians, a third of them children, and wounded at least 5300.

In its land, sea and ar offensive, Israel targeted hospitals, schools, mosques and government buildings and destroyed infrastructure system in Gaza, lefting Palestinians without electricity, gas and power.

But Israel imposes heavy blockade on entry of infrastracture materials under the pretext of Palestinians can use them as "weapon" materials.

Gazans live under heavy Israel siege for a long time and Egypt still insists on not to opening the only Gaza border crossing in a move condemned by Muslims around the world in protests, leaving Gazans desperate to digging tunnels underground and risking their lives.


Reuters
Last Mod: 23 Eylül 2009, 18:25
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