Israeli ministers criticize PA use of aid

Feb. 27, 2009 at 11:27 AM
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JERUSALEM, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Two Israeli ministers said Friday they oppose how the Palestinian National Authority used Israeli financial assistance to rebuild the Gaza Strip.

Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai and Tourism Minister Ruhama Avraham-Balila were reacting to a Ynetnews report this week that said the Israeli aid was used to rebuild the Gaza Strip rather than pay Palestinian government workers' salaries, the Israeli media source said.

Ynetnews had reported this week that Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad used $21.6 million of the $42 million allotted to his government by Israeli for Gaza Strip reconstruction efforts.

Yishai said he opposed the Israeli aid from the start, suggesting it would be used to assist the "wheels of terror" in the Gaza Strip, where Israel conducted a military offensive last month.

"When the decision (to transfer the funds) was made, I said that it meant adding fuel to the wheels of terror rather than building trust with the Palestinian Authority," Yishai said Friday.

"The money was allotted for specific purposes and if it was used for other goals I will ask the government to deduct every penny for future funds transferred to the Palestinian Authority," Balila said in agreement.

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