Saudis Provide $200M to P.A. before UN Bid

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Saudi Arabia promised to transfer $200 million to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority before Friday's bid at the United Nations for unilateral statehood, the P.A.'s Maan news agency reported on Tuesday. 

According to the report, Saudi King Abdullah ordered his finance minister to transfer the funds and inform P.A. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Fayyad is in New York with President Mahmoud Abbas to take part in the P.A.'s bid for statehood at week's end. 

Donor aid, principally from the European Union, United States, and Arab countries, provides the bulk of the P.A.'s budget.

Funding from Arab countries has steadily decreased over the past few years. In May, Fayyad appealed to his "Arab brothers."

"We say to our Arab brothers, save us," Salam said. "We need your help more than any time before."

In July, Fayyad requested an emergency meeting of the Arab League, saying it was "urgent that the Arab countries meet their financial obligations" so the P.A. could pay government salaries, including 70,000 workers in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

In a report released 10 days ago, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank said the P.A.'s dependence on donor funding and slower economic growth did not bode well for establishing an independent state.

"Though the P.A. has sought to reduce the need for external assistance, lower economic growth and lower than expected donor assistance have resulted in an acute fiscal crisis," the World Bank stated in the report.

The P.A. has received only a fraction of the projected $1.4 billion in donor aid, mostly from the European Union.

Last spring Congress warned that U.S. aid to the P.A. may be cut off if it forms a coalition government with Hamas. U.S. law prohibits funding terror organizations, such as Hamas.

Israel also withheld tax revenues last spring -- which it transfers periodically -- after the P.A. and Hamas signed a reconciliation agreement in Cairo in April to pave the way for a unity coalition.

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