Brussels, 19 December 2011 - Today, the European Commission has adopted a new assistance package for the Occupied Palestinian Territory for 2012, which amounts to €160.4 million.
Two thirds of this will go to the Palestinian Authority to help it cover wages and pensions for essential civilian workers (particularly medical and teaching staff) and social allowances for vulnerable Palestinian families. The funding will also cover arrears of bills by the Palestinian Authority to the private sector for medical supplies. The remaining amount of €55.4 million will be allocated to the core budget/ general fund of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). UNRWA provides basic health, education and social services for a Palestinian refugee population of five million people both in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in neighbouring states. The EU and its EU Member States are the biggest donors to UNRWA.
Catherine Ashton, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission, said: "This decision highlights our commitment to the Palestinian people. It consolidates our support to the Palestinian Authority's institution-building programme and contributes to the ability of the PA to provide essential public services. Today’s decision also underlines our support to Palestine refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency."
EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle, announcing the adoption of the package said: "This is a sign of our strong political and financial commitment to build a democratic and viable Palestinian state, as well as to contributing to the well-being of the Palestinian refugee community. We have made a special effort both to mobilise extra funds from this year's budget and to front-load those from next year to respond to the difficult financial situation both the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA face in providing vital services to the Palestinian people. Indeed, I trust that other donors will also share the burden of this support ".
EU support to the Palestinian Authority is channelled through the EU's assistance mechanism for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, PEGASE (French acronym for Mecanisme "Palestino - Européen de Gestion et d'Aide Socio-Economique) which was launched in 2008.
This aid to the Palestinian Authority is provided to support the implementation of the Palestinian National Development Plan, successor to the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan, first presented by the Palestinian Authority at the donor conference in December 2007, held in Paris. Moreover, in August 2009, Prime Minister Fayyad presented the Palestinian Authority's "Programme of the Thirteenth Government". The plan aims at building strong governmental institutions which will serve as the basis for a future independent Palestinian State. The EU has expressed its political and financial support for Prime Minister Fayyad's plan. Further to this support and to some partial and insufficient easing of restrictions on movement and access in the West Bank, the reform agenda of Prime Minister Fayyad has triggered economic and social progress. The situation in Gaza, however, remains unsustainable.
Today's first tranche of financing for 2012 responds to the priorities of the Palestinian Authority in supporting recurrent expenditure and the needs of UNRWA to support Palestine refugees. The total €160.4 million package is made up of a front-loaded amount of €100 million from the 2012 budget together with €0.4 million from 2011. This means that overall 2012 funds for the Occupied Palestinian Territory can reach the same level as in 2011, with a total allocation of €300 million.
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