Helping hand for workers

DOHA - US-ally Qatar will pay the salaries of Palestinian education workers for several months, the Palestinian prime minister said yesterday, helping to ease an economic crisis caused by a Western aid boycott.

DOHA - US-ally Qatar will pay the salaries of Palestinian education workers for several months, the Palestinian prime minister said yesterday, helping to ease an economic crisis caused by a Western aid boycott.

"Qatar will pay the salaries of 40000 of the education employees for the next several months, starting now," Ismail Haniyeh said.

He said that Qatar was also talking about giving R54million each month to the Palestinian health sector.

Haniyeh told reporters that a Qatari delegation would travel to the Palestinian territories in 10 days to discuss setting up an Islamic bank with a R360million capital that would be increased to R700million to finance development there.

The Gulf Arab state would also build a sports city in the Palestinian territories, Haniyeh said, but gave no more details. Qatari officials were not immediately available for comment.

The Hamas-led Palestinian government has been brought to the brink of financial collapse because of a Western aid boycott over its refusal to recognise Israel, renounce violence and embrace Israeli-Palestinian peace deals.

The Arab League said in July it had wired about R300million in donations from Arab states - including Qatar - to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to ease the crisis by providing humanitarian grants to government workers who have gone unpaid for months.

lQatar, a political maverick in the largely conservative Gulf region, has hosted Hamas leaders in the past. It was visited by a Hamas group earlier this year. - Reuters

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