Australia condemned for axing aid to Palestinian Authority

A rally for Gaza in Sydney in June. Photo: Peter Boyle

The Australian government’s July 3 announcement that it had axed its contributions to the Palestinian Authority (PA) through the World Bank's Multi-Donor Trust Fund for the Palestinian Recovery and Development Program has been condemned by Palestinian activists.

The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network said in a statement: “The Australian government has given in to the extremist elements of its party — the same people who want to move the Australian Embassy to Jerusalem.

“To summarily axe funding to the PA without any evidence of misuse of funds is draconian and shows whose side the government is on. The government talks of supporting a two-state solution yet undermines Palestinian rights at every turn."

In announcing the decision, foreign minister Julie Bishop said that while she was “confident that previous Australian funding to the PA through the World Bank has been used as intended” her government had decided to axe the funding because it was “concerned” the PA may have the “opportunity” to assist Palestinians “convicted of politically motivated violence”.

Sydney-based Palestinian activist Khaled Ghannam told Green Left Weekly: “I would like to ask Julie Bishop a simple question. “What do you expect the Palestinian authority should do with families which desperately need financial support? Obviously the Palestinian government must assist these families, just like the Australian government or any other government around the world should do with families needing such support. 

“Why do you want to punish all Palestinian families? Shame on you!

“Unarmed Palestinians are being killed by Israel’s army every day. Now your government wants more Palestinians to suffer and die of hunger.”

Ghannam added that this decision showed Australia is once again following the line of the United States government rather than doing what is just or logical. “Australia’s decisions should not be made by the US,” he said.

“Palestinians will continue their struggles in their occupied country until they get an independent state — our right according to international law. Resistance is justified when Palestine is occupied!”