Australia stops direct aid to Palestinians, fearing it funds violence

Australia will discontinue direct aid to the Palestinian Authority because it suspects the money is freeing up funds used to support political violence.

By: World Israel News and AP

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Monday that Australia will stop giving about $7 million a year to the World Bank’s trust fund for Palestinian recovery and development, according to Australian media sources.

Australia said it has ended direct aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) because Australian donations could increase the self-governing body’s capacity to pay Palestinians convicted of politically motivated violence.

The PA spends an estimated $300 million annually to pay stipends to Palestinians who committed acts of terror against Israelis and others as well as to families of these terrorists.

Bishop said Australia cut funding to the World Bank’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund for the Palestinian Recovery and Development Program after writing to the PA in late May seeking assurance that Australian funding was not going to Palestinian criminals.

“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.

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“I am confident that previous Australian funding to the PA through the World Bank has been used as intended.

“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 activities that Australia would never support.

“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,” she added.

Bishop said Australia will now send aid 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.