Will the Arab League pay up?
Because donors are not meeting their pledges, the Palestinian Authority is nearly broke and cannot meet its payroll. The PA told a specially convened session of the Arab League today that it needs an immediate injection of $300 million. Already, PA employees are on half salary.
This is not because the United States or the EU is failing to support the PA financially, nor because Israel is failing to pass on withheld tax revenues it collects on behalf of the PA; the US, EU, and Israel are meeting their commitments. It is solely because Arab states are not paying up, as PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has candidly pointed out.
And yesterday PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki said the same thing: “The importance of the meeting is that it has become urgent that the Arab countries meet their financial obligations, particularly given the looming possibility that the Palestinian Authority will be unable to pay salaries for this current month and the next one, which is Ramadan.”
This is a simple and quick test of the oil-rich Gulf states, and especially Saudi Arabia. With crude oil in the area of $100 a barrel, it is not a measure of their financial ability; they have the money. And that being the case, this is a far better test than speeches and UN votes of just how committed to Palestinian progress they really are.