(AFP) – Sep 13, 2012
WASHINGTON — The US State Department Thursday said it was working with Congress to release some $200 million in funds to help the Palestinian Authority through a crippling financial crisis.
"You know that we feel strongly that this money needs to move. We are working with the Congress on that," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
In April, President Barack Obama signed a waiver to remove curbs on funding to the Palestinian Authority, declaring the aid to be "important to the security interests of the United States."
A $192 million aid package was frozen by the US Congress after the Palestinians moved to gain statehood at the United Nations last September.
But Nuland said despite the waiver: "There have been some holds on the money in the Congress."
The Palestinian Authority is facing its worst economic crisis in years, largely because of a failure by donors to deliver pledged funds.
Over the past 10 days, towns and cities across the West Bank have been rocked by protests and strikes in response to the rising cost of living, particularly the spiraling cost of fuel.
On Tuesday, prime minister Salam Fayyad announced cuts to VAT and fuel prices in a bid to quell the protests, and two key unions said on Wednesday they would halt further demonstrations while they hold talks.
As well as cutting taxes and fuel costs, Fayyad pledged to begin paying overdue August salaries to civil servants.
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