CAIRO (AFP) – The Arab League is discussing means of paying the long overdue salaries of Palestinian civil servants directly into their bank accounts but obstacles remain.
“The Arab League is currently looking at the Palestinian government’s proposal for the salaries of Palestinian civil servants to be paid directly,” Hisham Yusef told AFP.
However, Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa’s top aide acknowledged that the proposal was “facing technical difficulties.”
Ghazi Hamad, a spokesman for the Palestinian government led by the Islamist movement Hamas, had said Monday that a list of account numbers of the Palestinian civil servants had been given to the Arab League.
The European Union, once the biggest donor to the Palestinians, and the United States have suspended all direct aid to the government citing Hamas’s refusal to renounce violence and recognise Israel’s right to exist.
Arab League officials told AFP that one of the main obstacles to the Palestinian proposal for direct payments is the fear among Palestinian banks of sanctions from the United States, which has banned any dealings with Hamas.
At a rate of 10 dollars per tranfer, more than 1.5 million dollars would also be wasted on commissions, officials said.
The 70 million dollars collected by the pan-Arab body only covers a fraction of the needs of the cash-strapped Palestinian government, which requires about 240 million dollars to pay its 160,000 employees for March and April.