Fatah, Hamas Reconcile: How Will the Deal Affect Foreign Aid to Palestinian Territories?

Men check medical supplies for Gaza. A deal that ends the four-year rift between the Fatah and Hamas has raised questions on whether or not a Palestinian unity government should continue receving international aid. Photo by: Physicians for Human Rights / CC BY

Fatah, the largest member of the multiparty Palestinian Liberation Organization, and Hamas, the Islamic group governing the Gaza Strip, signed on Wednesday (May 3) a deal that ends their four-year rift and paves way for the creation of a unity government in the Palestinian territories. The deal has prompted questions on whether or not a Palestinian unity government should continue receiving international aid.

Israel, which is among the countries that recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization, says the group’s inclusion in the planned unity government makes it ineligible for foreign aid, the Media Line reports.

Even before the agreement was finalized, three U.S. lawmakers have also warned that the Palestinian Authority could lose U.S. financial assistance if the deal pushed through. The United States also classifies Hamas as a terrorist group.

>> Palestinian Authority, Hamas Merger Would Lead to US Aid Suspension, Legislators Say

The U.S. State Department, however, assured that there would be no immediate suspension of aid but stressed that future support is contingent on the new Palestinian government. A spokesperson for the department said the U.S. is waiting to see the specifics of the agreement.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has earlier indicated that he is willing to give up U.S. aid to reach a unification deal with Hamas.

>> Palestinian President Ready to Relinquish US Aid to Unite with Hamas, Aide Says

Other countries that classify Hamas as a terrorist organization are Japan, Canada and the European Union. Independent and non-partisan

Meantime, Palestinian Authority spokesperson Ghassan Khatib said the agreement between Fatah and Hamas was formulated in a way that would avoid conditions that could prevent the new unity government from receiving foreign aid.

The proposed Cabinet will include “independent, non-partisan ministers” instead of political figures that belong to either Hamas or Fatah, Khatib said, according to Media Line. He added that the new government will have the “same political platform of the PLO and the president and the current government.”

Decline in aid

Palestinian officials, meanwhile, have reported a drop in the amount of aid the Palestinian Authority received in 2010, compared to previous years.

Total aid from Arab donors in 2010 fell to $236 million from $461 million in 2009, according to Prime Minister Salam Fayad, the World Tribune reports. He said aid from the European Union also decreased while the United States met its pledge to provide more $300 million.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.