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Saudi says donated $2.4 billion to Palestinians
Riyadh,21th March 2001

    Saudi Arabia said yesterday it had given 8.9 billion riyals ($2.37 billion) in aid to Palestinians since 1991, rejecting criticism of Arab aid agencies. Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf told a news conference the oil kingdom had also paid $130 million towards its share in two Arab funds worth $1 billion set up by an Arab summit last year to support Palestinians.

  Assaf was apparently responding to criticism by Palestinians that Arab aid disbursed through the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) was slow and insufficient. Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, on a regional tour ahead of an Arab summit next week, arrived in Riyadh on Tuesday and met Saudi officials, including King Fahd, state media said. Arafat earlier called on the summit, to be held in Amman, to take decisions that would confront what he called Israeli aggression against the Palestinians and Jerusalem.

  A Palestinian official said in January that Palestinians had received less than 10 percent of the $1 billion pledged, blaming it on bureaucracy within the IDB. But Assaf said the IDB was "competent and doing its work as it should be done". The IDB said on Tuesday a total $205 million in aid to Palestinians has so far been approved, of which $23 million has been paid.

  The Arab League said last week Arab states will send $40 million a month to the Palestinian Authority. The cash lifeline is to operate for the next six months. At least 347 Palestinians, 66 Israelis and 13 Israeli Arabs have been killed since the latest Intifada, or uprising, erupted six months ago after peace talks reached deadlock.


Source: Gulf News

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