BRUSSELS (Aug. 25)
The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, has decided to earmark some $12.3 million in aid for the rehabilitation of Palestinian prisoners who were freed by the Israeli authorities as part of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.
The commission’s aid program, intended to extend over two years, is aimed at improving the economic and social conditions of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank enclave of Jericho, both of which fell under Palestinian self-rule in mid-May.
The aid is designed to help the former prisoners secure jobs through a series of training programs and subsidies to potential employers.
According to officials with the Brusselsbased European Commission, 77 percent of the former prisoners are between 20 and 39 years old.
The E.U. had pledged a five-year financial aid package of some $600 million to help the Palestinian economy after Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed their historic selfrule accord last September in Washington.
The E.U. this week also allocated some $2.4 million in additional humanitarian aid for the population of Iraq.
The aid package, which will take the form of basic foodstuffs, is aimed at easing the effects of the embargo on Iraq that was imposed by the United Nations in the wake of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.