Patten backs extra aid for Palestinians

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Series Details Vol.7, No.6, 8.2.01, p1
Publication Date 08/02/2001
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Date: 08/02/01

THE Palestinian National Authority could collapse in a matter of months with major consequences for the Arab-Israeli peace process unless the EU pumps in more money, External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten is warning.

"This would be a severe blow to prospects for peace in the region," Patten told MEPs. "Israeli security would be threatened and our efforts to promote cooperation and stability in the Middle East would be undermined."

Likud hard-liner Ariel Sharon's landslide victory in Tuesday's election is likely to dim hopes of a peace deal even further.

The EU has already spent €30 million of an emergency €90-million fund to support the Authority. But according to the World Bank the Palestinians need €33 million a month to continue functioning, meaning the rest of the fund could be exhausted within two months.

The Union and other international donors are making up the Authority's income while Israel refuses to make transfers of tax receipts to the Palestinians during the wave of protests against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

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