DOHA: Qatar called on Tuesday for the immediate establishment of a $1 billion fund to help Palestinians in Arab East Jerusalem, and offered to contribute $250 million to it.
Sheikh Hamad made the proposal at the opening of the Arab League (AL) summit, saying other Arab countries must provide the remainder, and that the fund would be run by the Islamic Bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
He gave no details for its implementation.
But Arabs worry that Israeli settlement building on lands occupied in the 1967 Middle East war, especially in Arab East Jerusalem, has made a two-state solution backed by the United States unfeasible.
Hamad also suggested an Arab summit in Cairo to implement Palestinian reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.
Hamas welcomed the initiative, praising “the Egyptian, Arab and Islamic efforts to support and speed up Palestinian national reconciliation and unification,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.
Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) negotiator Saeb Erekat said in an interview with Al Jazeera that he welcomed the reconciliation proposal by the emir, while Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh issued a statement also welcoming the initiative.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) on Tuesday debated a draft budget amounting to $3.9 billion, of which it said $1.4 billion would have to come from foreign financing.
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad lamented a lack of payment of foreign aid as he presented the 2013 draft budget to politicians and economists in Ramallah, the seat of the PNA, on Monday.
“The principal reason for our financial crisis last year was the lack of payment of foreign financial aid that was counted on.”
The draft specified the need for $1.4 billion in “external financing.”
On Friday, following a three-day visit by US President Barack Obama to occupied Jerusalem and Ramallah, a top official in Washington said the US had unblocked almost $500 million in aid to the PNA which had been frozen by Congress for months.
And Israel is to immediately unblock revenues it collects on behalf of the PNA, frozen last year in retaliation for the Palestinians winning upgraded UN status, the Israeli premier’s office said on Monday.
Separately, the PLO lauded on Tuesday UN condemnation of Israeli settlement building, but slammed the US position on human rights violations by Israel.
“On behalf of the Palestinian people and leadership, I would like to express great appreciation and gratitude” to the UN’s Human Rights Council, PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement.
“We appreciate your support and value your courage to stand behind your convictions.”
UNHRC presented a report to diplomats this month, which said Israel must immediately begin withdrawing its settlers from the Palestinian territories.
“The United States once again demonstrated a total disregard for Palestinian rights and the requirements of peace,” Ashrawi said.
It “voted against justice, and for impunity, in the face of the most egregious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law...it voted against peace.”
PLO’s comments came several days after a visit by Barack Obama to Israel and the Palestinian territories, his first as US president.
UNHRC report, published at the end of January, sparked angry reactions from Israel, which slammed it and the Human Rights Council that commissioned it as “one-sided and biased.”