International aid to Palestinians
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International aid has played a major role in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict as the Palestinians claim it has been used as a means to keep the peace process going, and the Israelis that it is used to fund terrorism.The Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip receives one of the highest levels of aid in the world. A dispute exists as to whether Palestinians or Israelis are the largest per capita beneficiaries of foreign aid. Aid has been offered to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and other Palestinian non-governmental organizations (PNGOs) by the international community, including international non-governmental organization (INGOs).
The entities that provide aid to the Palestinians are categorized into seven groups: the Arab nations, the European Union, the United States, Japan, international institutions (including agencies of the UN system), European countries, and other nations.
Following the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, an international conference took place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, where donors pledged almost $4.5 billion for the resonstruction of Gaza. These funds bypass Hamas, since the PNA, in collaboration with the donor community, has taken the leadership in delivering and distributing the assistance. India which is aspiring to be recognized as ‘Globally respected power’ has made concerted efforts in fostering better relations with PA. When PAP President Abbas visited New Delhi in 2008 he was offered a credit of US$20 million (Rs.900 million) by Indian Federal Government. India also continued to offer eight scholarships under ICCR Schemes to Palestinian students for higher studies in India, while also offering several slots for training courses under the ITEC Program.
The lion’s share of the aid comes from the European Union and the United States. According to estimates made by the World Bank The Palestinian Authority received $525 million of international aid in the first half of 2010, $1.4 billion in 2009 and $1.8 billion in 2008. Foreign aid is the “main driver” of economic growth in the Palestinian territories. According to the International Monetary Fund, the unemployment rate has fallen as the economy of Gaza grew by 16% in the first half of 2010, almost twice as fast as the economy of the West Bank.
The Arab League states have also been substantial donors, notably through budgetary support to the PNA during the Second Intifada; they have been however criticized for not sufficiently financing the UNRWA and the PNA, and for balking at their pledges. After the 2006 Palestinian elections, the Arab countries tried to contribute to the payment of the Palestinian public servants’ wages, bypassing the PNA; at the same time Arab funds were paid directly to Abbas’ office for disbursement. During the Paris Conference, 11% of the pledges came from the US and Canada, 53% from Europe and 20% from the Arab countries. From 2000 the European Union had provided over €1.6 billion to UNRWA, a relief and human development agency primarily aimed to help Palestinian refugees and other segments of Palestinian society, beside additional financial aid to Palestinians. In 2013 UNRWA received $294m from the US, $216.4 million from the EU, $151.6 million from Saudi Arabia, $93.7 million from Sweden, $54.4 million from Germany, $53 million from Norway, $34.6 million from Japan, $28.8 million from Switzerland, $23.3 million from Australia, $22.4 million from the Netherlands, $20 million from Denmark, $18.6 million from Kuwait, $17 million from France, $12.3 million from Italy, $10.7 million from Belgium as well as $10.3 million from all other countries, totaling just over $1 billion in 2013.