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.
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.