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MEDIA ALERT: CHALLENGING EU's PROPOSAL FOR PALESTINIAN AID

BOSTON, February 14, 2007-This week, the EU met to discuss the formation of a Palestinian government along with expanded emergency assistance. For more than a year, the EU, US and Russia have participated in an economic boycott of the Palestinian government. Opponents of the current policy of suspending aid to Palestinian government intimate that refusing aid has contributed to Palestinian hardship. Yet experience has shown that increased direct funding of the Palestinian Authority does not translate into improved economic conditions for the Palestinian people when there is no commitment to building peaceful relations with Israel.

The cause of the Palestinians' economic decline is not due to the level of foreign aid but rather the choice by Palestinian leaders to sacrifice economic development in order to pursue their fight against Israel's right to exist.

Contrary to the Palestinian claim that Western sanctions against the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority has resulted in less economic assistance than in the past, foreign aid to the Palestinians in 2006 dramatically increased over previous levels.

THE TRUTH IS:

* Foreign aid donations went from $350 million (World Bank) in 2005 to $709 million through mid-December of 2006.

* Overall, total donations in 2006 (legal and smuggled) amounted to at least $775 million, an increase of $425 million over 2005.

* Western aid sources continue to funnel aid directly to the Palestinians. In the first nine months of 2006, total European aid, including humanitarian aid and support for developing projects, increased by $184 million (27%) from $681 million in 2005 to $865 in 2006. According to the UN, Western aid to the Palestinians from all sources increased by 10% in 2006; meanwhile aid provided by Arab states increased substantially.

* The crisis of the Palestinians has not arisen out of the decision by Western donors to suspend payment to the Hamas government. Rather, a cascading effect of increasing debt and unchecked spending carried over from years of mismanagement has created an untenable situation.

Available to dispel the myths about declining Palestinian aid are members of CAMERA, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, which has been following trends in Middle East reporting for the past 25 years.

Steven Stotsky, CAMERA Researcher and Media Analyst, says, "Palestinian hardship is a direct result of a decline in economic productivity of the Palestinians. Border closures and reduced trade with Israel, the single largest trading partner and ex-pat employer of Palestinians, have certainly impacted the Palestinian economy. But Israel's reaction is simply a response to the Palestinian decision to put Hamas, an avowed terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel, in charge of the Palestinian National Authority."

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