“The Western economic boycott has brought the Gaza Palestinians to their knees….”
Published: 15 August 2007
Briefing Number 199
Claim: “Since Israel left Gaza in 2005, and Hamas was elected to lead the Palestinians in January 2006, the US and Europe, encouraged by Israel, have economically boycotted the Palestinians, heartlessly driving them to poverty and helping bring about the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June 2007….”
Fact: US and Western financial assistance to the Palestinians in Gaza increased in 2006 from its level in 2005, despite the election of Hamas.
We summarise the facts below, as extracted from a detailed report by the New York Times' Middle East correspondent Steven Erlanger which was published on 21 March 2007 . All figures and quotes are taken from that report.
In the report, Western aid levels to the Palestinians are described by Alexander Costy, who is an assistant to the UN Special Middle East envoy, as “quite stunning, given the relatively small size of the population of the Palestinian territory…..”
US aid to the Palestinians
2006: this aid increased to $468m
Comment: According to the report, the US provides more money to the UN refugee agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) than any other country in the world
European Union aid to the Palestinians
2006: this increased to $916m
Comment: these figures do not include European contributions to UN agencies
International Monetary Fund and UN aid to the Palestinians
2006: this increased to $1.2bn
Comment: Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salem Fayyad claims that this figure is an under-estimate, and that the correct figure for 2006 is $1.35bn.
Aid is directed at relieving Palestinian hardship: According to the Erlanger report, the funds described above were channelled directly to individuals and to the Palestinian Authority, rather than to Hamas. European aid alone is paying 88,000 Palestinian households, subsidising 470,000 Palestinians in Gaza and in addition subsidising 73,000 low-income Palestinians with special needs.
What's the total Arab contribution? In 2006, Arab countries contributed a total of $400m in aid to the Palestinians of Gaza. This is about 15% of the combined contributions of the US , the European Union, the IMF and the UN.
Disaster relief priority: The UN began a humanitarian appeal for the Palestinians in 2007, aiming to collect $450m more money. This is the third largest UN request, after Congo and Sudan , and ahead of 18 global disasters.
Conclusion: The combined economic aid provided to the Palestinians by the US , the European Union, the IMF and the UN increased by 22% in 2006 from its level in 2005, despite the election of Hamas in January 2006. The claim that the West has brought Gaza to its knees since Hamas came to power is a myth.