World Bank links Palestinian aid

The World Bank is linking a new $500 million in Palestinian aid to Israel lifting travel restrictions and Palestinian reform:

The president, James Wolfensohn, said the bank is not imposing conditions, but that international donors want to see conditions improve to make the aid more effective.

"The donors, essentially, today, having gone through the intefadeh (Palestinian uprising), are going to want to feel that if they put in an additional $500 million (a year), that it's being done seriously and with an opportunity for a viable area," Wolfensohn told the Israeli daily Haaretz

Perhaps the bank and other donors should reform the way they give aid to the Palestinians rather than link to abstract issues like "Palestinian reform" -- we are talking about an area where the authorities are not really in control of the situation. In the meantime, it seems a bit callous to delay aid when the Palestinians, particularly in Gaza, are going through one of the worst humanitarian crisis in their history.

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,