Despite the Palestinian Authority’s deep deficit, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced on Wednesday that the PA will allocate $1 million a month to Palestinian refugees in Syria.
In his weekly radio address, Fayyad said the Palestinian government took the decision following the visit of a PLO delegation to refugee camps in Syria earlier this month.
Some half a million Palestinian refugees are registered with UNRWA in Syria, but many of them were forced to flee their homes following clashes between government and rebel forces within the camps. Recent reports indicated that half of the inhabitants of Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian camp located south of Damascus, have abandoned their homes.
“It was decided to allocate one million dollars to assist our people in their refugee camps until the relevant international institutions will resume providing the needed services,” Fayyad said in the radio statement.
Basem Ezbidi, a political scientist at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah, said the assistance to refugees in Syria was largely symbolic, and came in response to the demands of the Palestinian public.
“This help comes after years of neglect on the part of the PLO,” Ezbidi told The Times of Israel. “Many Palestinians are angry with the PLO for not connecting with Palestinians living abroad.”
Ezbidi noted that Palestinians in the West Bank are feeling sentimental towards their brethren in Syria. Despite the dire situation of the Palestinian economy, $1 million a month would be no more than “a drop in the ocean” of the total government budget.
Palestinian refugees in Syria are falling between the cracks, Ezbeidi added, aided neither by Qatar, which helps the Syrian refugees, nor by Iran, which supports the Assad regime.
Israel resumed transferring tax money collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in late January, estimated at $115 million. Israel had frozen the transfer of funds following the successful Palestinian bid to gain nonmember state status at the UN General Assembly in late November 2012.
On Thursday, the United States pledged $60 million and additional nonlethal aid to rebels fighting to oust President Bashar Assad.