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Qatar allocates $480 million in aid to Palestinians

By AFP - May 08,2019 - Last updated at May 08,2019

Palestinians pass out Iftar food for Muslim devotees prior to breaking their fast on the second day of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Tuesday (AFP photo)

DOHA — Qatar said Tuesday it had allocated $480 million in aid to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority to support education and health services and provide urgent humanitarian relief.

The authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas has been hit by the cutting of two of its leading sources of revenues.

Washington has ended all bilateral US aid in response to the Palestinians' severing of contacts after it recognised the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017.

A row with Israel has, meanwhile, led to a halt to transfers of customs duties it levies on goods destined for Palestinian markets.

Both Abbas and the leader of Hamas, the rival Palestinian faction which controls the Gaza Strip, welcomed the Qatari announcement.

"The state of Qatar has allocated $300 million in the form of grants and loans to support the health and education sectors' budgets with the Palestinian Authority," the official Qatar News Agency said.

It said Doha had also allocated another $180 million in "urgent relief and humanitarian aid and in support of UN programmes in Palestine".

Aid will also go to the power sector to ensure supplies are not interrupted.

In a statement on official Palestinian news agency Wafa, Abbas thanked the emirate for its financial assistance, which he said would "contribute to alleviating and supporting the burdens of our people".

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said the aid was "a continuation of the unwavering Qatari stances that support the Palestinian people".

In February, Israel decided to deduct around $10 million a month from the customs duty it collects on behalf of the Palestinians, corresponding to the amount it said they paid families of prisoners or directly to inmates serving time in Israeli jails.

The Palestinians responded by saying they would refuse any funds where unilateral deductions had been made.

The Palestinian Authority describes the payments as a form of welfare, but Israel claims the payments “encourage further violence”.

Gas-rich Qatar is a major aid donor to the Palestinians, both to Abbas’ West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and to the rival Gaza administration of Islamist group Hamas.

In November, the Gulf state, which is a long-time Hamas ally, committed to providing around $15 million a month in aid to Gaza over six months.

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