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The Australian reports on PMW findings about Palestinian anger over Australian cut to PA aid

Sam Buckingham-Jones and Geoff Chambers  |
The Australian reports on PMW findings

Australia ‘worthy of being spat on’:
Nabil Shaath condemns decision
to cancel $10 million in aid

A senior Palestinian Authority official has condemned a decision by the Australian government to cancel $10 million in aid, describing Australia as “worthy of being spat on” and “servants of the US”. Nabil Shaath — who advises PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas on foreign affairs and international relations — told a television station he had been “angered greatly” by the decision, Palestinian Media Watch reported.

“Australia’s decision about transferring $10 million angered me greatly. That’s all that Australia pays — $10 million that it pays to us, to the PA, through the international bank,” he said. “(Australia) said that it transferred (the aid) to the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, so that it would not serve the payment of the salaries of the (martyrs and prisoners’) families. In other words, the truth is they are worthy of being spat on. You (Australians) are the servants of the US. No decision is made without Australia voting as the US votes — sometimes only these three vote: Israel, America and Australia… We do not want to declare war on Australia. But it cannot be, in other words, sometimes there is insolence that is impossible (to accept). I don’t want your $10 million. I don’t want to chase after them.”

Australia announced early last week it would end its direct aid to PA and will instead pay through the United Nations, following fears the money was going to the families of terrorists. Australia had previously sent aid to the World Bank’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund for the Palestinian Recovery and Development Program, but there were concerns the PA had paid stipends, known as “martyr payments”, of up to $US3500 ($4600) a month to families of those killed or jailed by Israeli authorities.

On May 29, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop wrote to the PA to seek “clear assurances” Australian funding was not being used to help Palestinians convicted of politically motivated violence.
“I am confident that previous Australian funding to the PA through the World Bank has been used as intended,” she said in a statement on July 2. “However, I am concerned that in providing funds for this aspect of the PA’s operations there is an opportunity for it to use its own budget to activities that Australia would never support. Any assistance provided by the Palestine Liberation Organisation to those convicted of politically motivated violence is an affront to Australian values, and undermines the prospect of meaningful peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Senior Israeli officials have praised Australia’s decision to clampdown on funding to the Palestinians, urging other western nations to follow suit. The Australian understands the United Kingdom is looking at a similar move, forcing greater transparency and accountability from Palestinian authorities.

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