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Donor Countries Promise Transfer of Funds to Strapped Palestinians.

Donor countries meeting this week in Brussels have promised to transfer some $125 million to the Palestinian Authority.

The sum will go toward operating expenses and police activities over the next six months, Israel Radio reported.

The donor countries – including European nations, the United States, Russia and Japan – met this week in an effort to inject urgently needed funds into the Palestinian self-rule areas of Gaza and Jericho.

The foreign donor nations, along with Palestinian and Israeli officials, signed an agreement Tuesday outlining the Palestinian Authority’s financial needs through March. The agreement covers Palestinian tax collection, Israeli refunds on taxes due the Palestinians and proposals for self-help projects to help stave off massive unemployment in the Gaza Strip.

The donor countries have pledged more than $2 billion to the Palestinians over five years, but little of the roughly $700 million pledged for 1994 has come through. Many of the donor nations had refused to fulfill their pledges because of Arafat’s refusal to demonstrate accountability for the funds.

Shortly before the conference began, the World Bank signed a deal with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat for a $58 million credit to the Palestinian Authority.

Both Israeli and Palestinian officials had warned that the Palestinian autonomy could collapse without the necessary operating funds.

Further evidence of the Palestinians’ financial strain emerged this week as the Palestinian Authority requested that Israel delay until Friday the transfer of taxation and health affairs in the West Bank because of a severe cash shortage.

The transfer of taxation and health affairs, which were delayed two days, is part of the early empowerment agreement that extends Palestinian control over certain civilian affairs in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority assumed control over education, social welfare and tourism earlier this year.

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