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Australia ends direct aid to Palestinian Authority

July 2, 2018

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said there was concern the PA was financing activities Australia "would never support." Australia will instead send its aid to the UN Humanitarian Fund for the Palestinian Territories.

Palestinians protest near the Israel-Gaza border
Image: picture-alliance/H. Salem

Australia on Monday announced it had ended direct aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) government over concerns the funds could be used to assist Palestinians convicted of political violence.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia would no longer be giving its yearly funding of A$10 million (€6.9 million, $7.5 million) to the World Bank's trust fund for Palestinian recovery and development.

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"I wrote to the Palestinian Authority on May 29, to seek clear assurance that Australian funding is not being used to assist Palestinians convicted of politically motivated violence," Bishop said in a statement.

"I am confident that previous Australian funding to the PA through the World Bank has been used as intended," Bishop said. "However, I am concerned that in providing funds for this aspect of the PA's operations there is an opportunity for it to use its own budget to fund activities that Australia would never support," she continued.

Prospect of peace undermined

"Any assistance provided by the Palestine Liberation Organization to those convicted of politically motivated violence is an affront to Australian values, and undermines the prospect of meaningful peace between Israel and the Palestinians," Bishop said.

The money will instead go to the United Nations' Humanitarian Fund for the Palestinian Territories, which provides vulnerable Palestinians with access to health care, food, water, improved sanitation and shelter.

Read more: Opinion: An anniversary, an embassy, and the destructive power of Donald Trump

The UN fund assists 1.9 million people and around three-quarters of its money is spent in Gaza, where living conditions have deteriorated as tensions with Israel continue to build following US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

US mulling aid cut

Australia's move comes as the United States also considers ending funding to the PA over hundreds of millions of dollars in payments made to Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

Some of the prisoners convicted of political violence are serving jail time for killing Israeli soldiers and civilians, which has led Israel to condemn the PA for funding terrorists.

Read more: Jerusalem: Three things to know

In March, the US government passed a law that halted the delivery of some financial aid to the Palestinians due to stipends being paid to families of Palestinians killed or jailed in clashes with Israel, a move praised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Palestine has defended the payments, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas saying Palestine had "a social responsibility to look after innocent people affected by the incarceration or killing of their loved ones."

law/kms (AFP, AP, dpa)