MEP Welcomes change in funding to Palestinian Authority
London Jewish News - 7 May 2003
The European Commission’s decision to scrap its monthly aid package to the Palestinians in favour of targeted assistance, was this week hailed by a leading London MEP. In a statement last week, the commission said the current system of regular payments of 10million euros each month was to be “discontinued” following the announcement of new confidence-building measures by Israel. While aid was previously paid into a general account to support the core activities of the administration, financial assistance will be focused on the private sector and social services under the new Reform Support Instrument. The money will also help to facilitate reforms set out in the Quartet’s roadmap to middle east peace, according to commission chiefs.
The overhaul was welcomed by Dr Charles Tannock, who earlier this year led a campaign to create a committee of enquiry into allegations that aid was being misused or even diverted to support terrorists. But speaking to LJN this week, Tannock said last week’s announcement would make aid more open to scrutiny. He said: “I believe the pressure brought about by our 170 signatures has helped bring about these changes together with the push for a roadmap and a two-state solution.
“I have never been against adequate financial support for the Palestinian Authority, provided it meets all the conditions of financial probity and that adequate safeguards are in place to prevent diversion of EU funds for fraudulent or terrorist purposes.” But Tannock, who has recently been appointed to the European parliament working group, said he still wanted to see a full investigation into how money paid to the PA in the past 18 months, has been spent. Commissioner for external relations, Chris Patten, insisted: “Our direct budgetary support has been a success. Now, Israel’s resumption of tax transfers allows us to change the form of our assistance. But our objectives remain the same – a stronger PA administration, better conditions for the Palestinian people and a continuing process of reform.”