French plan for Palestinians surprises World Bank

2nd May 2006, Comments 0 comments

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2006 (AFP) - The World Bank was not informed of a French plan to use the global lender as a conduit for funds to the Hamas-led Palestinian government, but is studying the option, an official said Monday.

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2006 (AFP) - The World Bank was not informed of a French plan to use the global lender as a conduit for funds to the Hamas-led Palestinian government, but is studying the option, an official said Monday.

"We learnt about it the way you learnt about it — through the news," said Dina El Naggar, the World Bank spokeswoman for the Middle East region, after French President Jacques Chirac unveiled his proposal on Friday.

Chirac said in talks with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas that a World Bank account could be used to send donors' payments directly to 160,000 Palestinian civil servants, bypassing the Hamas-led government.

The Hamas administration is being boycotted by Western powers because of the militant group's opposition to peace with Israel and its support for violence.

"We are currently considering various options to deliver aid effectively to the Palestinian people, because we realize the complexity of the present situation," El Naggar said.

"The Chirac proposal is one of the options. It is certainly not the only option we are looking at at this point," she added.

A long-standing financial crisis in the Palestinian Authority has hit disaster level since Hamas took office last month, with Israel withholding customs duties and the European Union and United States suspending direct aid.

The Hamas administration has been unable to pay any salaries since March. Given the heavy burden of 'state' machinery in the Palestinian territories, that affects the livelihoods of one million people or a quarter of the population.

The Hamas government said Friday it had no problem in principle with the Chirac proposal, but warned it would not be frozen out of paying its employees.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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