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UN: PA to collapse ‘in weeks’
|UN officials say the Palestinian
Authority may have only one month left before it collapses financially,
plunging the occupied territories into anarchy.
Their warnings back recent statements by the UN's Middle East envoy, Terje
Roed-Larsen, about the growing fiscal crisis facing the Palestinian
Authority (PA) because of the five-month intifada and Israel's economic
blockade of the West Bank and Gaza. The envoy's office is trying to
convince the international community to take these predictions seriously
and to help bail out the Palestinians before it is too late.
The Palestinian intifada, and particularly Israel's unprecedentedly harsh
and almost uninterrupted blockade of the occupied territories, has
devastated the Palestinian economy, tripling unemployment and pushing the
number of people living below the poverty line to about one million.
About 100,000 Palestinians have been unable to cross into Israel to work.
Figures released by Mr Roed-Larsen's office show income losses of $1.15bn
from October to January. The main fear of western diplomats is that the
financial collapse of the PA, which cannot pay its 130,000 employees, will
bring about the fall of Yasser Arafat. There is speculation that Arafat
may be readying to go into exile to Tunis or Cairo.