Related Quarterly Updates

Two donor meetings were held during the quarter:

  • The Donor group's Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, apolitical body comprising seven full and five associate members, and selected other invitees (ten states and three international bodies) met in Brussels 11/29-30 to raise money against the Palestinian deficit and inject new life in the overall assistance program in the West Bank and Gaza. After the World Bank noted that only $240 m. of the over $700 m. promised to the PA for 1994 was likely to arrive during the year, participants agreed to release $125 m. immediately to cover emergency expenses and help self-rule transition. A"memorandum of understanding" was signed by Israel, the PA, and the donor countries outlining the PA's needs for the next four months, issues of taxation, Israeli aid, and contributions from donor countries. By mid-February, only $64 m. of the $125 m. pledged had reached the PA.
  • On 1/30-31, the newly created Local Aid Coordination Committee (LACC) charged with facilitating implementation in the field met in Gaza. Representatives of some 30 donor countries (Israel did not attend) discussed problems of 1994 and possible improvements for the future. The meeting created 11 working groups, each dealing with a separate sector (public finance, tourism, private sector, housing and infrastructure, etc.) to move the process forward. Participants agreed to speed up transfer of aid to the PA (with priority going to job creation, roads, and utilities) and approved $695 m. for employment projects and infrastructure dvelopment, $500 m. of which was promised for last year.



Donor talks this quarter revolved around meeting PA financial needs through 12/31/95 in light of the 3/31 expiration of the donor states' agreement on funding PA expenses. Two formal and two main informal donor meetings were held to this end:

  • On 2/28, the second formal meeting of the Local Aid Coordination Committee was held in Jericho. Attendees, incl. PA Planning M Shaath and representatives from the World Bank, UN, PECDAR, and more than 30 donor countries, discussed effects of the continued closure of the o.t., financial needs for the period 4/1-12/31, and replenishing the Holst Peace Fund for PA administrative costs.
  • On 3/8-9, an informal meeting of major donor and host governments was held in Amman in order to reassure the PA followmg the World Bank's announcement (3/2) that the Holst fund had run out of money because donor countries have failed to honor their pledges. Participants from 28 countries and organizations reaffirmed their pledges and/or made additional pledges (incl., U.S., $15 m.; Sweden, $2 m.; Britain £8 m). 
  • The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) held an informal two-day meeting in Washington 4/3-4. The PA submitted for review its FY 1995 budget for $400 m., showing a $136 m. deficit, and asked for $500 m. to cover the deficit and administrative costs. Donors unofficially agreed to cover PA operating costs through April and to fulfill the remaining $35 m. of the $125 m. in outstanding pledges noted at the 11/30/94 Brussels meeting. They also noted that there were no pledges or remainder of 1995. Following donor meeting, members of Palestinian delegation met with World Bank, IMF, and U.S. Dept. of Commerce officials to discuss possible free trade agreements with U.S. delegations interested in starting joint U.S.-Palestinian development projects in the self-rule areas. 
  • On 4/27, the main AHLC meeting was held in Paris to approve the decisions taken at the 4/3-4 Washington meeting. Israel, the PA, and the donor representatives signed an agreement designed to help the PA meet operating costs for the rest of FY 1995 and boost economic development (see Doc. Al). The committee approved the reallocation of only $60 m. to help cover the PA's $136 m. deficit for 1995, meaning the PA could run out of money by the end of 9/95. Donors were also encouraged to finance construction of Gaza harbor and the industrial parks. Israel promised to ease the flow of goods from the o.t. into Israel, pledged an extra $6.5 m. toward PA operating costs, and promised to turn over millions of shekels in tax money it has collected on the PA's behalf. 
  • On 3/24, VP Al Gore announced a $73 m. aid package from USAID to improve Gaza's sewage system, pave streets, and create jobs. He also announced the authorization for Palestinians to export 4,600 agricultural and industrial goods to the U.S. duty free, to stimulate trade with and investment in the self-rule areas.

Additional pledges to the PA this quarter included:

  • $50 m. from the Islamic Development Bank for agricultural projects.
  • $27 m. from Saudi Arabia (given directly to the PA) for running Waqf schools and building 10,000 housing units in East Jerusalem.
  • $19 m. from Italy, Kuwait, Norway, and the U.S. to cover salaries of PA civil servants.
  • $7.5 m. from Saudi Arabia to cover police salaries for February and March.
  • $5 m. from Japan for job creation.
  • $4 m. from Kuwait to cover the PA deficit.

For the first time since 9/30/2015, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), the chief policylevel coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinians, held a working meeting in Brussels on 4/19, chaired by Norwegian FM Børge Brende and presided over by European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. The attendees considered reports from the World Bank, the UN special coordinator’s office, the IMF, and other institutions. According to Brende’s summary of the meeting, the comm. was concerned with the absence of Palestinian national reconciliation (see “Intra-Palestinian Politics” above) and observed that “economic development cannot be a substitute for a political solution.” The AHLC also commended the PA and Israeli finance ministers for embarking on an effort to improve economic conditions in the oPt (see “The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” above); welcomed the steps taken by Israel to lift restrictions on Palestinian movement and access, however insufficient, while underlining the “need to expand them significantly” (see “Movement and Access” above); and called for increased efforts to accelerate the reconstruction of Gaza (see “Gaza Reconstruction” above).

(see “Gaza Reconstruction” above). The quarter saw several announcements of new financial support for the Palestinians. Japan signed (2/28) 2 agreements to provide almost $220,000 in aid; the first, worth $128,426, was for the Palestinian Environmental Friends Association to improve water quality in the s. Gaza city of Rafah and the second was for a $90,009 grant to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Japan also donated (4/7) $7 m. to support the UN Children’s Emergency Fund’s (UNICEF) programs for Palestinian children in the oPt. The EU was also active this quarter: Mogherini announced (3/1) that the European Commission had approved a €252.5 m. (around $274 m.) package of assistance to the Palestinians, including €82 m. ($91 m.) for UNRWA, with the rest going to the PA, in fulfilment of the first part of the EU’s pledged support for 2016. Then the EU announced (4/5) that it would contribute €15.3 m. (around $17 m.) to the 3/2016 payments owed to the PA’s 66,000 civil servants and pensioners. Also, as mentioned above (see “United States”), the U.S. announced (5/9) a new 5-year, $50-m. program for humanitarian support, job creation, and capacity-building in Gaza.

Additional aid, pledged throughout the quarter via UNRWA, came from the international community for Palestinian refugees in particular. The U.S. contributed (2/19) $47.7 m. to the agency’s 2016 emergency appeal for programs in Syria. Sweden increased (2/23) its annual contribution by 15%, to $40.6 m., and also announced (5/9) a SEK 65 m. ($8 m.) contribution for programs in Syria and the oPt. The Korean International Cooperation Agency signed (2/26) an agreement pledging $447,996 to support technical and vocational education and training in Gaza. Japan confirmed (2/29) a $38.21 m. pledge to support humanitarian efforts in Gaza, as well as education and health programs in the West Bank, Syria, and Lebanon; and the construction of a sewage network in ‘Aqabat Jabir r.c. in the West Bank, marking Japan’s largest 1-time donation ever. With $38.1 m. from Saudi Arabia, UNRWA and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) agreed (3/15) on new home rehabilitation efforts in Gaza. Finally, the OPEC Fund for International Development committed (4/29) $1.4 m. to infrastructure improvement in the Shu‘fat r.c. in East Jerusalem.

Scandals erupted in the realm of international aid this quarter. In 6/2016, Israeli forces had arrested Mohammad El Halabi, the Gaza director of the Christian charity World Vision. El Halabi was interrogated for over 50 days, and after they extracted confessions from him, the Israeli authorities accused (8/4) him of diverting $43 m. to Hamas’s military wing. World Vision CEO Kevin Jenkins responded with a statement (8/8) that his organization’s Gaza budget had been around $22.5 m. over the course of the previous 10 years, so it was very unlikely El Halabi had committed the alleged crimes. As the international community criticized Israel for cracking down on an aid group, Israel’s Shin Bet announced (8/9) that a UN Development Programme (UNDP) employee in Gaza, Wahid Abdullah, had been arrested (7/3) for transporting 300 tons of rubble from a UNDP site to a Hamas site on orders from a Hamas official. The UNDP mounted a less aggressive defense of its employee, stating (8/9) that it had “robust measures in place to ensure that the rubble . . . goes to its intended purpose,” and that it would “cooperate fully with the authorities in this matter.”

Meanwhile, international pledges of support for the Palestinians continued to come in. The EU announced (6/5) a €15.0 m. (approx. $17 m.) contribution to the PA for the payment of 5/2016 salaries and pensions, and provided (6/23) €154,000 (approx. $173,725) to support farmers and agriculture in the West Bank. At a ceremony on 6/14, an EU delegation marked the end of the 1st stage of construction on an EU-funded water desalination plant in Dayr al-Balah (Gaza), where work began in 3/2014. The EU officials also pledged an additional €10 m. (approximately $13.7 m.) for the 2d phase of construction, allowing the plant to double the amount of water processed daily from 6,000 to 12,000 m3 . Meanwhile, the World Bank announced transfers of $55 m. (6/28) and $30 m. (7/12) for Palestinian development in the oPt and for the PA’s budget needs, including macroeconomic and public financial management reforms.

Further support came through UNRWA. In particular, the U.S. pledged $51.6 m. (6/30), $68 m. (7/15), and $25 m. (7/26) to the agency’s 2016 oPt and Syria emergency appeals, and for schools in Jordan, respectively. UNRWA also announced major pledges from Austria (€1 m. or approximately $1.1 m.) and Denmark (DKK 30 m. or approximately $4.46 m.) on 7/28 and 7/1.

There was no meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Comm. this quarter.

The AHLC, the chief policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinians, met on 9/19 on the sidelines of the UNGA. The meeting, hosted by UN secy.-gen. Ban Ki-moon and chaired by Norwegian FM Børge Brende, offered the comm. a chance to “take stock of the Palestinian state-building process, and to discuss ways to improve and sustain the Palestinian economy in its effort to maintain the viability of the 2-state solution,” according to a Norwegian Foreign Ministry press release. In addition to congratulating the PA and Israel on their electricity deal and expressing hope that it would lead to “even stronger cooperation” (see “The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” above), the AHLC reaffirmed its support for the 2-state solution, called on Israel to “establish a planning regime for Area C” of the West Bank that would allow the Palestinians to “develop their industrial base,” called for increased Gaza reconstruction efforts, and expressed concern “about the diversion and abuse of construction material and other goods entering Gaza,” inter alia.

Before and after the AHLC meeting, the international community released a string of new announcements, with the EU and its mbr.-states particularly active in this regard. On 8/24, the EU and UN unveiled $2.1 m. in projects benefiting Palestinian women, including $1.3 m. to fund international activities opposing Israel’s occupation. The EU made its 2d contribution of the year, €10 m. (approx. $11 m.), on 8/29 to assist with the PA’s allowances to poor Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza, and it contributed (9/5) €28 m. (approx. $31 m.) to help pay the salaries and pensions of PA employees for 8/2016. The EU and PA Ministry of Social Development jointly launched (10/17) a €1.5-m. (approx. $1.7 m.) program for capacity-building in the social services sector in the oPt. Individually, Belgium allocated (9/5) an additional €10.28 m. (approx. $11.47 m.) in humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, via a number of NGOs and UN orgs., and according to the Israeli PM’s office (9/6) the Dutch govt. had agreed to aid Gaza with improved water and gas supplies.

UNRWA was also the recipient of some major new international aid directed at the Palestinians. The Europeans again were the most active donors. The EU allocated (10/6) €12 m. (approx. $13 m.) to support the agency’s reconstruction efforts at the Nahr al-Barid r.c. in Lebanon; Belgium pledged (9/28) €7 m. (approx. $7 m.) to the agency’s education and shelter programs across the Middle East; and Italy contributed (9/1) €6.6 m. (approx. $7 m.) to support the core UNRWA programs and services.

Outside Europe, the UAE announced (11/3) a new $15 m. contribution to UNRWA’s education programs in Gaza; Kuwait (10/28) and Norway (10/18) pledged $5 m. and $5.5 m., respectively, to the agency’s emergency appeal for Syria; and Japan contributed (10/9) $4 m. to the agency’s food assistance programs in Gaza for the 5th year in a row.

In a related development, Palestinian sources said (10/25) that Saudi Arabia had been holding back its monthly $20 m. contributions to the PA for the preceding 6 mos., since 4/2016. Neither Riyadh nor Ramallah commented publicly on the suspension, and PA envoys were reportedly unable to ascertain the reason for the change. Unnamed Palestinian officials told Reuters on 10/26 that Saudi Arabia’s move might be attributable to its growing frustration with the stagnant Palestinian national reconciliation process.

Gaza Aid Scandal

At the end of last quarter, Israeli forces had arrested 2 Palestinian employees of organizations that administer international aid in Gaza: Mohammad el-Halabi, the Gaza director of the Christian charity World Vision, and Wahid Abdullah al-Bursh, an official at the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Gaza (see Photos from the Quarter, and also JPS 46 [1]). Israel accused both men of diverting aid money or supplies from official disbursement mechanisms to Hamas. Their arrests precipitated an international controversy; both World Vision and the UNDP defended their employees and a number of international diplomats spoke out on their behalf. This quarter, Haaretz reported (8/25) that Western officials had complained about Israel’s failure to provide any intelligence supporting these charges, implying that the Israeli govt. was interested in creating a diplomatic “buzz” rather than achieving justice. “The Israelis’ priorities in this affair are very strange,” a Western diplomat, who asked to remain anonymous, was quoted as saying. The Israeli govt. categorically denied the charges. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said (8/26) that Israel had, in fact, passed its allies some information on the cases and that more would follow: “The claim that Israel had not updated the donor countries to [sic] World Vision regarding the background of the arrest of the suspects is incorrect.” Furthermore, Israel denied a UNDP request to release al-Bursh, continued litigating both cases, and froze World Vision’s bank accounts, forcing the organization to lay off 120 employees, according to a letter World Vision sent its contractors on 8/29.

There was no meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Comm. this quarter. However, there was a steady stream of international aid pledged to the PA and the Palestinian people.

In a major reversal of policy on UNRWA, Canada’s Min. of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau announced (11/16) that Ottawa would provide the agency $20 m. for general budget needs and $5 m. for its emergency appeal on Syria. “With this funding, Canada joins all other G-7 countries in supporting UNRWA’s efforts to meet the everincreasing needs of Palestinian refugees, assists in providing basic services for vulnerable people, and contributes to stability in the region,” the official govt. statement read. In addition, UNRWA received contributions from China (11/24), Saudi Arabia (11/28), the Netherlands (11/28), India (12/12), Germany (12/14), the EU (12/26), Italy (1/5 and 2/7), South Korea (1/25), Switzerland (2/2), and Denmark (2/8), totaling $119.627 m. (The agency was pledged $56.68 m. last quarter.) Switzerland also promised (2/2) to contribute $73.7 m. in 2017–20, and the Japanese fastfashion company UNIQLO donated (2/13) nearly $500,000 worth of winter clothes to Palestinian refugees in Burj al-Barajneh r.c. in Lebanon.

Also of note: U.S. actor and former Obama admin. staffer Kal Penn donated (1/2) $25,000 to UNRWA, which he won on a cookingthemed reality show. Addressing the 2.92 m. people who tuned in to ABC’s MasterChef Celebrity Showdown, Penn said, “I’m thrilled to be helping UNRWA do its critical work in Gaza and Syria. They’re a lifeline for so many families that have been struggling for decades to meet their basic needs and achieve their rights.”

While aid flows to UNRWA were slowly growing, the PA faced a massive budget crisis. PA PM Hamdallah said (1/3) that he expected a $1.06-b. deficit in 2017, meaning that deep budget cuts would be forthcoming. The shortfall was, in part, a result of the U.S. and EU redirecting aid dollars away from the PA, and Saudi Arabia putting a hold on its monthly disbursals (see “United States” above and JPS 46 [2]). The PA received only 1 new aid contribution this quarter, some €18.98 m. (approximately $20 m.) from the EU on 12/5.

The international community continued to support the Palestinian people in other ways. The World Bank board approved (12/2) a $5-m. grant to increase employment opportunities for Palestinian university graduates. The EU and Spain announced (12/17) a €21 m. (approximately $22 m.) donation for Palestinian families in need in Gaza and the West Bank. Japan pledged $47 m. (2/13) in new assistance to be disbursed through various international agencies, and also agreed (12/21) to pay $80,498 for the replacement of a water pipeline nr. Ramallah. In an address to the Arab League, Chinese pres. Xi Jinping announced (1/19) that Beijing would provide CNY 50 m. (approximately $8 m.) in aid to the Palestinians. Finally, senior Hamas official Haniyeh said (2/11) that Qatar had agreed to disburse $100 m. of $1 b. in reconstruction aid pledged at the 10/2014 international conference in Cairo for reconstruction in Gaza following Israel’s 2014 assault on the Strip (see JPS 44 [1, 2]).


Gaza Aid Scandal

The Israeli authorities released (1/12) UN Development Programme (UNDP) employee Wahid Abdullah al-Bursh approximately 6 mos. after arresting him on charges of diverting international aid supplies to Hamas (see JPS 46 [1, 2]). When his release date was publicized, the organization issued (1/4) a statement saying that the outcome of his case “confirms that there was no wrongdoing by UNDP.” Separately, the Beersheba District Court accepted the Israeli prosecutor’s proposal to add charges to the govt.’s case against Mohammad El Halabi, a Gazan employee of the Christian aid group World Vision, who was arrested on 8/4 and accused of channeling $43 m. to Hamas’s military wing. El Halabi argued that the additional charges were illegitimate and only intended as punishment for his refusal to accept a plea deal. He later pled (2/2) not guilty to all the charges, setting the stage for a full trial to begin on 2/23.

The Ad Hoc Liaison Comm. (AHLC), the chief policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinians, met on 5/4 in Brussels, under the chairmanship of Norwegian FM Børge Brende. Attendees considered reports from UN special coordinator Mladenov, the World Bank, the PA, and the IMF. Breaking from the standard practice at past meetings of the AHLC, the minutes were not made public, causing uncertainty around the attendees’ discussions and conclusions. It is worth noting that this was the 1st AHLC meeting in which a rep. of the Trump admin. participated. U.S. special representative for international negotiations Greenblatt told the group that the Trump admin. wanted to “see meaningful progress” on the Palestinian economy. “The U.S., the international community, and the parties should work together to finalize measures which improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians,” he stated. Greenblatt also held Hamas responsible for the electricity crisis in Gaza and said that it “must allow” the PA to resume control of Gaza (see “Gaza Electricity Crisis” and “Intra-Palestinian Dynamics” above).

The international community maintained their funding to the PA and Palestinians in the oPt this quarter. Germany agreed (3/6) to donate €18 m. (approx. $20 m.) to support PA programs meant to improve local services and to develop municipalities in the West Bank and Gaza. Japan transferred (4/25) $8 m. to the PA in budget support via the World Bank. The EU announced (4/11) a €11.75 m. (approx. $13.2 m.) grant to the PA, to fund social welfare allowances to 71,500 impoverished Palestinian families. Saudi Arabia donated $80 m. to help rebuild homes destroyed during Israel’s summer 2014 assault on Gaza, according to the PA on 3/23 ($40 m. of this was to be disbursed via UNRWA; see below). Finally, the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) announced (4/18) that Japan had contributed $905,650 to support its efforts protecting civilians and supporting reconstruction in Gaza (Japan previously gave UNMAS $3 m. in 2015 and $500,000 in 2016 to support activities in Gaza).

In addition, UNRWA as the agency in charge of providing health, education, and other social services to Palestinian refugees announced $126.35 m. worth of new donations from Japan (2/24), Liechtenstein (3/1), the European Commission for Humanitarian Operations (3/8), Saudi Arabia (3/23), the Islamic Development Bank (3/23), the EU (3/30), Russia (5/9), and South Korea (5/12), up from a total of $119.627 m. last quarter. The bulk of the funds, some $80 m., were designated for reconstruction efforts in Gaza.

Gaza Aid Scandal

Beersheba Dist. Court judge Nasser Abu Taha advised (3/28) Mohammed El Halabi, a former employee of the Christian aid charity World Vision in Gaza, on trial for allegedly diverting funds to Hamas, that he had “little chance” of being acquitted and urged him to take the plea deal he had rejected last quarter (see JPS 46 [3]). Israeli forces had arrested El Halabi on 8/4/2016 and accused him of stealing $43 m. in international aid. As the Israeli legal proceedings continued, Australia’s Dept. of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) announced (3/21) that its review of the Israeli allegations “uncovered nothing to suggest any diversion of govt. funds.” Australia donated m. of dollars to World Vision during the period concerned, and suspended its aid following his arrest. The DFAT also said that Australian support to World Vision would remain suspended at least until the conclusion of the trial.

In a related development, Israel’s Shin Bet accused (3/21) 2 more Gazan aid workers— Muhammad Murtaj, the manager of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency’s Gaza branch, and Mehmet Kaya, the Gaza rep. of the Turkish NGO Humanitarian Relief Foundation, also known as the IHH—of diverting “millions of shekels” in international aid to Hamas. Israeli forces arrested Murtaj in 2/2017, but Kaya had not been arrested at the time of the Shin Bet’s announcement.

There were only a handful of announcements of new international aid for the Palestinians this quarter. UNRWA unveiled only 4 new donations: Mercy USA for Aid and Development contributed (6/20) $300,000 to support education programs for visionimpaired students in Gaza; Islamic Relief USA donated (6/9) $1.96 m. for refugee children in Gaza; the EU announced (6/7) an $82 m. (approximately $97 m.) donation to UNRWA’s core budget in 2017; and the Kuwait Patients Helping Fund Society contributed (5/21) $200,000 for Gazans with noncommunicable diseases. The same day that the $82 m. donation was announced, the EU and UNRWA also agreed to administer EU support for the agency through 2020. The EU also contributed (8/3) approximately $24 m. to the payment of the PA’s civil servants and pensioners in 7/2017, effectively subsidizing the continuing operation of govt. functions. Separately, the World Bank announced (7/28) $43 m. in new grants to improve living conditions and expand opportunities in the oPt, and Danish FM Anders Samuelsen pledged (5/25) $80 m. to the PA in support of its National Policy Agenda (see “Intra-Palestinian Dynamics” above).

Also of note: During Samuelsen’s visit to Israel and the oPt, PM Netanyahu asked (5/17) the Danish minister to stop supporting Palestinian organizations and NGOs that incite violence against Israelis and promote the BDS movement. When Samuelsen returned to Denmark, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it had begun a comprehensive review of its support for NGOs in the oPt (Haaretz, 5/30). “We must be sure that Danish aid helps to advance human rights in the Palestinian territories in a positive manner,” the statement read. “It is possible that in the wake of the examination we will be forced to stop our support of a number of Palestinian organizations. Until this examination is complete we won’t sign any new grants for Palestinian organizations.” On 6/2, the ministry released another statement, this time announcing the suspension of an $8 m. pledge to support 24 Palestinian NGOs.

There was no meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Comm. this quarter.

The Ad Hoc Liaison Comm., the main policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinians, convened on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York on 9/18. Hosted by UN undersecy.- gen. Jeffrey Feltman, the attendees included representatives from the PA, Israel, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the Middle East Quartet, as well as UN Special Coordinator Mladenov. In conclusion, the meeting’s chair and Norwegian FM Børge Brende called for “concerted action” in 3 key areas: fiscal sustainability, economic development, and reconstruction and recovery efforts in Gaza. He also specifically welcomed the Egyptian govt.’s efforts to facilitate the return of the PA to Gaza (see “Intra-Palestinian Dynamics” above).

There were announcements of new international aid allocations to the Palestinians throughout the quarter, but no major increase in associated dollar amounts. The biggest came on 8/17, when a Palestinian official said that the UAE and a number of other donor countries had agreed to provide $15 m. per mo. to fund projects improving humanitarian conditions in Gaza. He said that the money would be administered by a new body, known as the Palestinian Joint Liability Comm., under Egyptian supervision, and that the comm. was established in the wake of the agreement between Hamas and exiled Fatah leader Dahlan in 6/2017 (see JPS 47 [1]). Separately, Saudi Arabia transferred (8/21) $30.8 m. to the PA to cover its monthly aid obligations from 4/2017 to 7/2017. The EU made its quarterly payment of €20 m. (approx. $23.4 m.) to the PA to impoverished families in the oPt. UN secy.-gen. Guterres released (8/30) $4 m. from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund to support ongoing UN operations in Gaza. Japan agreed to give $3.2 m. (10/9) to the World Food Program projects in Gaza and $1 m. (10/5) for the construction of 2 waste disposal stations in the West Bank.

As in previous quarters, many announcements of new aid for the Palestinians came via UNRWA. The U.S. made (8/18) its annual pledge of $2 m. to the agency. The Kuwaiti amb. to Jordan handed over (8/18) a check worth $200,000, fulfilling a pledge made on 5/21/2017. The development arm of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Fund for International Development) committed (9/13) $1 m. to UNRWA’s education system in East Jerusalem. The EU agreed to provide (10/10) €9.5 m. (approx. $11.1 m.) as an emergency supplement to its €82 m. (approx. $99 m.) pledge for the agency’s core programs earlier this year. Austria contributed (9/22) €1.5 m. (approx. $1.8 m.) to support the agency’s health programs in the oPt. Japan gave approx. $10.2 m. (9/27) to a variety of programs across the oPt and $3 m. (9/8) to the agency’s humanitarian response efforts following the clashes in Lebanon’s ‘Ayn al-Hilweh r.c. (see “Lebanon” above). Finally, the UK-based Al-Khair Foundation donated (11/13) $40,000 to fund psychosocial activities for individuals traumatized by the 3 Israeli assaults on Gaza since 2008.

The AHLC, the main policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinians, convened in Brussels on 1/31 for an emergency session to discuss “measures to speed up efforts that can underpin a negotiated two-state solution” and the need to “enable the PA to execute full control over Gaza,” according to an EU press release announcing the meeting on 1/10. EU foreign policy chief Mogherini and Norwegian foreign minister Ine Eriksen Søreide reportedly called the meeting specifically in response to U.S. president Trump’s decision to slash aid to the Palestinians (see “The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” above). At the meeting, Mogherini called for a multilateral approach to the peace process. “Nothing without the U.S., nothing with the U.S. alone,” she said. The Israeli representatives at the meeting presented a plan worth $1 billion, including the construction of a desalination plant, a natural gas pipeline, and a variety of other infrastructure projects, purportedly to help ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. They offered to provide technology and expertise for these projects, but not funding. The Israelis also offered to be more flexible about permitting the import of so-called dualuse construction materials into Gaza (they typically bar the entrance of such materials, claiming that Hamas diverts them for military purposes). Also at the meeting, Mogherini announced a new €42.5 million (approximately $52.2 million) aid package, including money for projects that “preserve the Palestinian character of [Jerusalem].”

Both before and after the AHLC meeting, there was a steady trickle of new aid announcements. Turkey was particularly active this quarter, donating $10 million (12/14) to Palestinian social and economic development projects and another $10 million (1/31) directly to the PA. The EU pledged (1/24) €11.28 million (approximately $13.8 million) to help with the PA’s quarterly payments to impoverished families in the West Bank and Gaza; and announced (2/2) another €317,000 (approximately $389,500) in PA agricultural aid to farmers and farming businesses. The Irish government pledged (11/28) €15 million (approximately $18.4 million) to support education in the oPt, and Denmark provided €2 million (approximately $2.45 million) to fund nine social infrastructure projects in Area C of the West Bank. In partnership with the EU, the Japanese government earmarked (12/18) more than €154,000 (approximately $189,000) to support the Palestinian House of Soap Company, operating in Jericho’s agro-industrial park. According to a UN press release, Robert Piper, the UN coordinator for humanitarian aid and development activities, released (12/9) $2.2 million to cover “urgent needs” in Gaza.

There were also a number of new pledges of support for Palestinian refugees via UNRWA. Kuwait contributed $5.9 million (11/27 and 2/5) to support the agency’s programs in Syria. South Korea transferred (11/27) $500,000 for programs helping Palestinian refugees from Syria that had recently fled to Jordan. Austria contributed (12/15) €1 million (approximately $1.2 million) to help UNRWA cover emergency needs in Gaza. Spain disbursed (12/18) €2 million (approximately $2.4 million) to support the agency’s human development programs across the Middle East. Germany signed two new agreements (12/8 and 12/13) pledging €23.15 million (approximately $28.4 million) to support reconstruction efforts and the construction of two new schools in Gaza. The EU announced two new contributions: €10.5 million (12/22; approximately $12.9 million) to support general agency programs and €3 million (2/8; approximately $3.7 million) in response to the agency’s 2017 Syria emergency appeal. Finally, Iceland made a new multiyear commitment to support UNRWA through 2021. Under the deal, announced 2/7, Iceland’s annual contribution was set to increase to approximately $250,000, up from approximately $200,000.

Besides the outpouring of international support for UNRWA in the wake of the U.S. aid cuts last quarter (see “UNRWA” above), there were a number of new pledges of support for the Palestinians. The Norwegian government agreed (5/2) to transfer $2.71 million to support the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics through 2020. Japan alone donated (3/4) $4.5 million to support the programs of the UN Children’s Emergency Fund in the oPt, $40 million (3/7) to support a variety of new economic development and humanitarian projects, and $500,000 (4/19) to the UN Women’s Palestine Office for a oneyear economic empowerment project in Gaza. The UN was particularly active. On 2/20, the UN Humanitarian Fund released approximately $900,000 to provide health and food support for 140,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Specifically citing the large number of Palestinian injuries stemming from Israeli violence against the Great March of Return protestors (see “The Great March of Return” above), the UN’s Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, Jamie McGoldrick, released (4/26) $2.2 million to address urgent humanitarian needs in Gaza. Germany also contributed to relief efforts, announcing a €2 million (approximately $2.34 million) donation to support Gaza’s hospitals on 4/30.

The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, the main policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinians, convened in Brussels on 3/20. EU foreign policy chief Mogherini hosted the meeting, and Norwegian foreign minister Ine Eriksen Søreide chaired it. According to a summary prepared by Søreide, the attending donors noted the need to “reduce and eventually lift the blockade on Gaza,” as well as the urgent needs for energy, water and sanitation, work, trade and job creation, income and liquidity, and humanitarian assistance. In keeping with that goal, they collectively committed €456 million (approximately $559 million) to a new clean water project, which was set to include the construction of a large desalination facility and upgrades to associated infrastructure. The new water project was not fully funded, however (the total estimated cost was €562.3 million, approximately $656.9 million). They also noted that work was under way to upgrade the electricity supply lines from Egypt and put in place plans to upgrade Gaza’s sole power plant, inter alia. Also at the meeting, the Israeli representatives “recommitted” to getting construction materials shipped to Gaza to the appropriate building sites.

Finally, the Israeli press reported that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates transferred approximately $250,000 to the Islamic Waqf in early 5/2018 to finance renovations at Haram al-Sharif (Hadashot, 5/2). The reports, which were not confirmed, framed the donation as a direct response to the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on 5/14.

                With the United States cutting aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) (see United States), a number of countries donated and pledged to donate to fill the $446 million deficit. Japan made several donations in 2018 totaling $20 million, 2 of these were made after 16 August: $5.4 million for Gaza food assistance on 5 September and $4.4 million for a solar panel project in Gaza on 22 November. On 28 September Kuwait, the European Union, Germany, Norway, France, Belgium, and Ireland contributed a total of $122 million after a meeting in New York with members of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee and UNRWA representatives. The figure is in addition to what the countries had already donated to UNWRA in 2018. Belgium also donated $4.5 million for UNRWA schools on 12 September. Luxembourg and Italy contributed $3.4 million and $2.3 million respectively on 12 October. Later on 20 December, Italy donated an additional $4.6 million, making Italy’s total contribution $17.2 million for 2018. Kuwait contributed $42.1 million on 14 November, making Kuwait’s contribution more than $50 million for 2018. On 27 November, the United Kingdom (UK) pledged to contribute $6.3 million to UNRWA’s efforts in Syria over the next 3 years. The UK donated a total of $65 million in 2018. Saudi Arabia donated twice this period, $63 million on 30 November and $50 million on 28 December making their contribution $160 million for 2018. On 21 December, China donated $2.35 million for Gaza food assistance, and finally the non-profit organizations Taawon and the Open Society Foundation jointly pledge $1.5 million to UNRWA on 19 December.  

                The World Bank nearly doubled its allotment of aid to Gaza and the West Bank from $55 million to $90 million. A World Bank spokesperson said that the World Bank aid to Palestine would be focused on job creation and the private sector as part of the organizations 12/2017 plan for Palestine.

                With all the U.S. cuts in funding of aid to Palestinians over the past year (see United States), Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank depended on different donors in 2019. The most recent development in the U.S. cutting of aid to Palestinians was that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that it was ending all its projects for Palestinians on 31 January. Much of the USAID funding is channeled to international NGOs. The biggest aid provider for Palestinians is the United Nations (UN) Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which lost $300 million of its contributions in 2018 due to the U.S. cuts. UNRWA managed to fill the deficit by receiving donations from other countries in 2018; however, commissioner general of UNRWA Pierre Krähenbühl said that the agency would need $1.2 billion in contributions in 2019 to keep UNRWA running at its current levels.



                UNRWA announced a number of contributions this quarter totaling $166 million. Of these, $107.83 million were contributions from the European Union (EU). On 24 January, Italy donated $1.7 million for UNRWA projects in Lebanon. On 6 February, UNRWA announced that the EU had contributed $13.48 million for humanitarian health programs in Gaza. A 2d EU donation to UNRWA worth $92.1 million was signed on 27 February in support of the agency’s general budget. A 3d EU contribution to UNRWA was signed on 28 February and totaled $2.25 million for UNRWA projects in Jordan. On 12 February, Germany contributed $23.59 million to UNRWA through the German Development Bank for the reconstruction of Nahr al-Barid refugee camp. On 23 February, UNRWA announced that Japan had committed $23 million for various UNRWA projects in the occupied Palestinian territories, Lebanon, and Syria. On 4 March, the Japanese government announced an additional donation of $7 million to support UNRWA emergency support in Lebanon and Syria. France donated $560,000 for the Social Safety Net Programme in Lebanon on 3 March. On 6 March, the foreign minister of Indonesia visited the UNRWA headquarters in Jordan and announced a $1 million donation. The government of Afghanistan donated $1 million to UNRWA on 7 March. On 13 March, the government of Flanders in Belgium contributed with $536,688 to UNRWA core programs.


Other Donations

                On top of the $30 million contribution from the Japanese government to UNRWA, Japan donated some $16.25 million to different projects in the West Bank. A $16 million aid agreement was signed by Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister Rami Hamdallah and the Japanese ambassador Takeshi Okubo on 13 February to help improve solid waste collection and transportation in the West Bank. On 25 February, Ambassador Okubo signed off on 3 separate grants for 3 villages in the West Bank, totaling $262,804: $84,675 for replacing a damaged water pipeline in Atil, $89,129 to enhance the electricity supply in Fahma, and $89,000 to enhance water supply to Qarawat Bani Hassan.

                Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) funded a project for $88,460 to improve the sanitation environment for students and teachers in al-Aqaba in the West Bank. The Japanese state-funded GGP also signed a grant deal to provide assistance to 4 different projects in Gaza amounting to $341,348. The EU contributed with $2.7 million to the PA program Assistance to Agriculture in the West Bank. The EU said that the contribution will help 241 Palestinian farmers in the West Bank. The PA signed a deal with the Islamic Development Bank to build and renovate 11 schools in Gaza and the West Bank. The deal includes 3 new schools and renovations of already-existing schools that amount to $14 million. Saudi Arabia announced on 13 February that it had transferred $60 million to the PA finance ministry from the Saudi Fund for Development to support the PA budget. On 28 March, the UK donated $2.6 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross for medical supplies to Palestinians in Gaza.


World Food Programme

                The World Food Programme (WFP) suspended some of their aid programs and reduced other programs for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza in January following cuts in funding. 27,000 Palestinians in the West Bank will no longer receive aid from WFP and another 165,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza will receive reduced aid from WFP. The WFP and another UN organ, the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund, signed an agreement to provide aid for 6,000 of the most vulnerable families in Gaza. These families will receive aid on electronic assistance cards which can be used for blankets, clothing, hygiene kits, and school uniforms. The initiative is designed to prevent the spread of disease as the population in Gaza becomes increasingly prone to outbreaks due to the level of poverty.


World Bank

                The World Bank announced on 7 February that it had approved a $30 million grant to support the PA’s reform program aimed at stabilizing the PA economy and enhance transparency. Damir Cosic, a World Bank senior economist, explains the aim of the grant: “While the new grant will continue to support progress to improve the Palestinian Authority’s service delivery in energy, water and health, it is also essential to modernize the legal and regulatory business environment to attract investors and entrepreneurs and to build on a new reform momentum in land administration and cashless mobile payments.”

               Both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) continued to face financial trouble after the U.S. cut all funding to Palestinians in 2018. The PA’s financial distress was further amplified by Israel’s withholding of PA tax revenues (see Intra-Palestinian Dynamics). With the U.S. cuts and Israel’s withholding of revenues, other countries sought to alleviate the PA and UNRWA’s financial situation this quarter.

               The UNRWA received $6 million from Japan on 4 April for UNRWA projects in Lebanon. On 5 April, Germany contributed with $10.1 million for various UNRWA projects. The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center signed a $1.5 million agreement to provide UNRWA health care services in Lebanon on 30 April. On 4 May, Italy contributed with $2 million for UNRWA health programs in Gaza. Finland and UNRWA signed a 4-year agreement where Finland pledged $21.87 million total for various UNRWA projects on 6 May. On 7 May, New Zealand signed a 3-year commitment to support UNRWA with $1.87 million total. The same day, Norway contributed with $11.5 million for UNRWA emergency services in Syria. By the end of the quarter on 26 June, the UK pledged to support UNRWA with $85.5 million for 2019. On the same day, the European Union (EU) pledged $23.8 million in support of UNRWA. The EU also provided $3.28 million for UNRWA emergency relief in Syria on 28 May. Islamic Relief USA contributed with $2.67 million in support of UNRWA projects in Gaza for vulnerable children and $300,000 for Suhour meals on the 1st day of Ramadan for Palestinians in Gaza.

               Canada donated $2.4 million to the UN World Food Programme to support vulnerable families in Gaza and the West Bank.

               At an Arab League summit in Cairo on 21 April, members of the Arab League pledged to transfer a total of $100 million per month to help the PA. The PA received $40 million from Saudi Arabia in the beginning of April to contribute to the PA’s budget for February and March. The UK contributed with $11 million to the PA’s Water Authority plans to build a new water desalination plant in Gaza. The EU contributed with $4 million to the PA’s Private Sector Reconstruction Gaza – Agriculture program. The EU also announced a $24 million donation for humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable families in Gaza and the West Bank and contributed with $16.4 million to help pay PA-employed civil servants. On 7 May, Qatar pledged $480 million total in aid for Palestinians: $300 million for PA programs and $180 million for UN programs in Gaza. On May 14, the EU and Ireland contributed with $21.85 million to the PA for aid distribution in Gaza and the West Bank. On 30 May, the EU gave an additional $16.4 million to the PA to help pay wages for civil servants.

               A scandal in the already financially hit United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) rocked the agency this quarter. A leaked report alleged sexual misconduct and abuse of power from the UNRWA leadership, including by the UNRWA commissioner general Pierre Krähenbühl. Krähenbühl is accused of being away from his office on travel for 28-29 days a month, spending excessive funds on an UNRWA employee because of an intimate personal relation to them, among other issues. The report, which was leaked to Al Jazeera and made public on 7/29, was said to have been sent to UN Secretary-General António Guterres back in December 2018. The Netherlands, Switzerland, and Belgium, within days of the report, suspended their contributions to UNRWA. UNRWA announced that the agency regretted the countries’ decision and that an investigation into the issue was ongoing.

               Several contributions were made to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the UNRWA this quarter. The PA received $25.7 million from Finland, Ireland, Norway, and Germany for the education sector. The European Union contributed with $28.64 million to the PA to help pay for August salaries and pensions for civil servants as the PA continues to face a financial crisis (see Intra-Palestinian Dynamics).

               The UNRWA received $2.28 million from Austria earmarked for health service in the occupied Palestinian territories on 7/22. On 7/29, the United Arab Emirates contributed $50 million to the UNRWA. Mercy USA for Aid and Development donated $300,000 to the UNRWA on 9/24 for visually impaired students in Gaza.

               Additionally, China donated $15 million for various projects in the West Bank and Gaza, including projects focused on education, infrastructure, and energy.

Quarterly Updates for (1 Jan 1970 — 1 Jan 1970)

Scandals erupted in the realm of international aid this quarter. In 6/2016, Israeli forces had arrested Mohammad El Halabi, the Gaza director of the Christian charity World Vision. El Halabi was interrogated for over 50 days, and after they extracted confessions from him, the Israeli authorities accused (8/4) him of diverting $43 m. to Hamas’s military wing. World Vision CEO Kevin Jenkins responded with a statement (8/8) that his organization’s Gaza budget had been around $22.5 m. over the course of the previous 10 years, so it was very unlikely El Halabi had committed the alleged crimes.