Abbas allocates $20 million for East Jerusalem residents after violence: reports
AHMAD GHARABLI (AFP/Archives)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has allocated some $20 million (NIS 71.1 million) in government subsidies to support Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem in the wake of a violent standoff with Israel over a flashpoint holy site in the city.
Israel's Channel Two television reported Sunday that the money will be distributed as grants for Palestinian residents to be used in a variety of ways, including to fund University studies, pay off municipal debts, assist private businesses, and subsidize electricity costs for residents of the Old City.
Palestinian media outlets reported the decision to disburse aid to East Jerusalemites last week, at the peak of violence between Palestinians and Israeli security forces over controversial security measures installed at the Temple Mount holy site, known to Muslims as Haram Al-Sharif.
The decision was announced in a statement following a meeting of an emergency committee headed by PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in coordination with the Higher National Committee for Jerusalem.
Of the $25 million, $15 million has been earmarked to support the housing sector and repair homes in East Jerusalem.
Abbas' government also decided to cover the electricity bills of residents of Jerusalem's Old City for the months of July and August.
Small business owners in the Old City will also receive a $1,000 subsidy to offset losses sustained during the nearly two-week crisis, during which time many merchants were forced to shutter their shops.
Violence erupted as thousands of Muslim worshipers boycotted the holy site following Israel's installation of metal detectors outside compound's nine gates following a July 14 terror attack which left two Israeli policemen dead.
The move sparked an outcry among Palestinians and throughout much of the Muslim world, with claims that the measures infringed upon the fragile status-quo governing prayer at the incendiary site.
At least five Palestinian protesters were killed during clashes, and three Israelis were stabbed to death in the West Bank settlement of Halamish in a retaliatory attack.
The metal detectors were eventually dismantled after Israel's security cabinet accepted the recommendations of the country's security services to deploy technologically advanced video technology instead.
The hilltop compound, which includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam.
The site has been at the center of tensions before, with a visit to the Temple Mount by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2000 helping spark the Second Intifada, which lasted nearly five years.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the main issues dividing Israelis and Palestinians.
While Israel claims the undivided city as its capital, the Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of their long-sought future state
(Staff with agencies)
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