RAMALLAH, (Reuters) – Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on Saturday the release of $88.6 million in development funds by U.S. lawmakers would help ease a fiscal crisis in the aid-dependant Palestinian economy.
“This is very important in order to help us deal with the economic crisis,” Fayyad told reporters in Ramallah.
In August Republican lawmakers put a hold on $147 million in U.S. assistance because they objected to a Palestinian push for recognition at the United Nations, arguing that Palestinian statehood should be achieved through peace talks with Israel.
On Friday, U.S. Representative Kay Granger announced she was ready for the entire sum to go to the Palestinians. But the other representative who had a hold on the funds, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, limited the release to $88.6 million.
Fayyad said he hoped that the whole amount, meant to support development projects, would be released.
“The entire sum must be sent in order to begin allocating spending for the year 2011 and this is important in order to support the Palestinian Authority’s budget,” Fayyad said.
There have been growing warnings, from the International Monetary Fund too, that the Palestinians are facing a deepening financial crisis due to a drop in aid from Western backers and wealthy Gulf states as well as Israeli restrictions on trade.
The IMF urged donors last week to meet their aid pledges to the Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which has a projected 2012 budget deficit of $1.1 billion.