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World Bank: Stop bypassing Hamas

Donor countries should stop bypassing Hamas when sending funds to the Palestinian Authority, the World Bank said. In a report released Wednesday, the international body cited a lack of transparency in the funds’ distribution and sharply criticized the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority for increasing its payroll expenses despite a drop in revenues. The office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has received at least $265 million in funds since Hamas took power last year, mostly from
Arab League states including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. The World Bank said that aid to the Palestinian Authority must be kept up in order to get the economy back on its feet, but suggested that the money be funneled through an office set up by the P.A. Finance Ministry. International aid has declined as Western countries set an embargo on the Hamas-led government until it renounces terrorism and recognizes Israel. Hamas and Fatah recently agreed to form a unity government, partly in hope of lifting the aid embargo, but have not indicated that the new coalition will adhere to the preconditions.