July 2, 2012

EDITOR: Israel tries to save its subcontractor in Palestine…

As the PNA is running huge debts, in its corrupt and inefficient operation, so crucial for the continuation of the Israeli occupation, Israel rallies to help the dog it has done so much to subdue… Ironically, the PNA has no right to demand help on its own.

Israel sought to borrow $100 million from IMF to prevent collapse of Palestinian Authority: Haaretz

Request was turned down because Palestinian Authority is not a state, and cannot ask the IMF for help on its own.

By Barak Ravid | Jul.02, 2012
Yuval Steinitz Benjamin Netanyahu Stanley Fischer Haim Shani - Tomer Appelbaum - 23022012

From left: Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, PM Benjamin Netanyahu, BoI governor Stanley Fischer and c’tee chairman Haim Shani. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum

By Avi Issacharoff | Jul.02,2012 | 12:48 AM |  12

Israel recently asked the International Monetary Fund for a bridge loan of a $100 million dollars that it planned to transfer to the Palestinian Authority to help prevent its financial collapse, but the IMF turned down the request.

The PA, which is not a state, cannot ask the IMF for help on its own. The plan therefore, was for Israel to take the loan on the Palestinians’ behalf, have the PA repay the loan to Israel, and Israel would repay the IMF.

The IMF rejected the Israeli request, however, saying it did not want to set a precedent of a state taking a loan on behalf of a non-state entity.

Israel’s approach to the IMF began to take shape during the IMF’s annual conference in Washington in mid-April. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad met during the conference with Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer and the two discussed the PA’s serious financial crisis.

According to a senior Israeli official, Fayyad explained to Fischer that the euro crisis in Europe and the financial crisis in the United States made it impossible for Western nations to increase their financial assistance to the PA. At the same time, Arab states were not transferring funds that they had promised, and Palestinian banks were refusing to extend any more credit to the government due to its inability to make debt payments.

This economic squeeze was giving the PA a serious cash-flow problem that was making it hard to pay salaries to government workers, particularly to security personnel. Salaries are being paid late, and many only get half their salaries when they are paid.

Fayyad told Fischer that the PA needed $100 million to make its payments for the coming year and asked him to help the Palestinians get a bridge loan from the IMF. Since the PA is not a state and not a member of the IMF, it cannot qualify for a loan, even if its circumstances might merit it.

Fischer discussed the matter with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and got a green light to proceed.

“Netanyahu is interested in preventing a situation whereby the PA collapses financially, which is liable to have a very negative impact on the West Bank security situation,” a senior Israeli official said.

Fischer approached IMF officials and suggested that Israel would take the loan from the IMF and would in turn loan the money to the Palestinians. The PA would pay Israel back, and Israel would forward the money to the IMF.

The IMF considered the request, but in the end, refused it, saying that the proposal was against its regulations and was liable to set a problematic precedent.

Despite the refusal, Fischer and Fayyad are trying to find an alternate solution.

Fischer and Fayyad know each other well from the period when the two of them worked at the IMF from the end of the 1990s until 2001. During those years Fayyad was the IMF representative to the PA and Fischer was the fund’s deputy director. Both ended their terms at the IMF at about the same time; Fayyad was named finance minister in the PA government and Fischer went to the private sector, becoming Bank of Israel governor in 2005.

In 2011, when Fischer was contending for the post of IMF director after the resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was caught up in a sex scandal, Fayyad publicly supported Fischer.

Former Israeli PM Yitzhak Shamir dies aged 96: Guardian

Shamir, who earned reputation as uncompromising opponent of Palestinian statehood, has died after long illness

Yitzhak Shamir

Yitzhak Shamir, the former Israeli PM, who has died aged 96. In 2001 he was awarded his nation’s highest honour, the Israel prize. Photograph: Michel Lipchitz/AP

Former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, who earned a reputation as an uncompromising opponent of Palestinian statehood, has died aged 96.

The former soldier, spy and statesman died at a nursing home in Herzliya after a long illness. In a statement announcing his death, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu paid tribute to his “deep loyalty to Israel“.

He said: “He was a paragon of loyalty to the land of Israel and the eternal values of the Jewish people.

“Yitzhak Shamir belongs to a generation of giants, who founded the state of Israel and fought for the freedom of the Jewish people in its land. He led Israel with deep loyalty to both the people and the land.”

As head of the right-wing Likud party, Shamir was prime minister between 1983-84 and 1986-1992. He was known for his firm opposition to the idea of trading occupied land for peace with the Palestinians.

Born in Poland in 1915, Shamir moved to Palestine in 1935. His mother and sisters were killed in the Holocaust.

He joined Lehi, a Jewish movement opposed to British mandatory authorities, and took over leadership after its founder was killed. Shamir was captured twice by British authorities but escaped from two detention camps and returned to resistance action.

After Israel was founded in 1948, Shamir joined the intelligence service Mossad before launching a political career. During his second term as prime minister, he ordered a military solution to the first Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation in 1986.

He embraced the creation of a Greater Israel, encompassing all of the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river.

Despite his ideology, he reluctantly took Israel into negotiations with its Arab neighbours, which paved the way for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process under his successors.

Following his defeat in the 1992 elections, Shamir retired from politics. In 2001, he was given his nation’s highest civilian honour, the Israel Prize.

EDITOR: You have to laugh… even if it is bitter laugh

It is funny, isn’t it? The Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv has been a UNESCO World Heritage site for years… this is a stretch of some houses built since 1916, in which some banks have their headquarters and rich people of Tel Aviv are languishing in Bauhaus buildings, so it obviously IS a world heritage! The birthplace of Christ so obviously isn’t! And this something that the two world powers, Israel and its junior partner, the USA, are against… Israel (and the USA) never knew what shame was, but now it also lost connection to the real world!

Palestinians win endangered world heritage status for Bethlehem church: Guardian

US ambassador condemns Unesco decision to grant protection for Church of the Nativity on site seen as Jesus’s birthplace

A Christian worshipper prays in the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. Photograph: Mohamad Torokman/REUTERS

Unesco has granted endangered world heritage status and funding for repairs to the site seen as Jesus’s birthplace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, despite objections from the US and Israel.

Israeli officials have questioned the need for Bethlehem to be registered as an endangered site and see Palestinian moves at Unesco and other UN bodies as an effort to embarrass Israel on the world stage.

Thirteen out of 21 members of the world heritage committee voted in favour of the move at a meeting in St Petersburg. The decision was met by a standing ovation. Six members voted against and two abstained.

The fourth-century Church of the Nativity, built over a grotto where Christian tradition says Jesus was born, needs repairs but the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, is short of funds.

The Palestinian Authority’s request included part of the Pilgrimage Route, the path which tradition says Joseph and Mary took into the city in their trek from Nazareth 2,000 years ago.

Palestinians had pointed to what they describe as the dangers of Israeli occupation and cited in particular Israel’s 2002 siege of the Church of the Nativity, where militants took sanctuary during a Palestinian uprising. Violence has subsided in recent years and more than two million people now visit the church annually.

Independent experts sent by Unesco to examine the church recommended turning down the request, saying that while the church roof needed patching up the shrine could not be considered “to have been severely damaged or to be under imminent threat”.

Friday’s meeting in St Petersburg was attended by the Palestinian foreign minister. The Palestinian Authority has viewed its entry into Unesco as a strategic milestone before the broader international recognition it seeks for a future state.

“This gives hope and confidence to our people on the inevitable victory of our just cause,” said the prime minister, Salam Fayyad, in a statement following the decision.

“It increases their determination to continue efforts at deepening readiness for the establishment of an independent state of Palestine, with its capital in East Jerusalem within the 1967 borders,” Fayyad said.

“This is an irresponsible decision,” said Gideon Koren, Israel’s vice-president of the International Council on Monuments and Sites. The US ambassador to Unesco, David Killion, said he was “profoundly disappointed by the decision”.

The Palestinian government plans to register about 20 more sites with Unesco, including the ancient city of Jericho and the archaeological site of Sebastia, and has dismissed Israel’s accusations.

“Our goal is to preserve and safeguard these sites in spite of the threat from Israeli occupation,” Hanan Ashrawi, head of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s department of culture and information, said.

Last year, Unesco granted the Palestinians full membership, a decision seen at the time as a boost to their bid, since largely stalled, to win unilateral statehood recognition from the United Nations in the absence of peace talks with Israel.

Israel and the US, which subsequently cut off its $80m (£50m) annual funding of Unesco, condemned the decision, saying peace negotiations – which collapsed in 2010 – were the only path to a Palestinian state. (Writing by Gleb Bryanski; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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