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  26th March 2015    Time 21:08 Jerusalem Arab Officials: Palestinian Question Remains Center of Arab Concern      Jewish, Zionist Groups Mobalize to Cancel Palestine-Israel Conference in Southampton University      Saudi Arabia Asks Arab League to Discuss Changing Names of Jerusalem Gates by Israel       UK Artists call for Immediate Sanctions on Israel      Israeli Soldier Attempts to Kidnap Youth South of Nablus       (Update): Palestinian Leadership Supports Arab Decision to Ensure Yemen Unity      Israeli Forces to Demolish, Stop-Construction of Houses, Structures in Hebron      2014 Witnesses Highest Civilian Death toll since 1967      Israeli Forces Detain Five, Summon Six from West Bank Districts      Newspaper Review: Dailies Highlight Premier in Gaza, EU Report to Push Israel to Talks       Israel Fulfills Three of Six Criteria to Assess Violations against Children       Weather Forecast: Sunny Skies Prevail through Next Week       Israeli Forces Raid School, Prevent Students from Leaving       Prime Minister Visits Gaza to Boost Reconciliation, Speed Reconstruction      Abbas to Arrive in Sharm el-Sheikh to Attend Arab League Summit
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New Palestinian Government Holds Its First Meeting

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RAMALLAH, June 11, 2013 (WAFA) – The new Palestinian government headed by Rami Hamdallah and which was sworn in on Thursday held its first meeting in Ramallah Tuesday.

Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Muhammad Mustafa, who is also acting as government spokesman for a temporary period, told a press conference that the government agenda included discussion of current and future financial, economic, political and social issues.

He said each of the ministers was asked to prepare a plan for his or her ministry for the next 100 days in order for the government to present its 100-day plan.

He also said the various political, economic, social, Jerusalem affairs and infrastructure committees were named.

On the political level, Mustafa said the government will follow the program of President Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO, which he said “we are committed to it and will do our best to support it and implement its program.”

The government also said it will support the prisoners and work toward their release.

It also expressed concern over Israeli settlement policy, particularly in Jerusalem, and called on the Arab countries to support the Palestinians economically and politically.

The government also expressed support for peace efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry, wishing him success in his efforts.

Mustafa said the new government is “transitional” until a new government of national reconciliation is formed. However, he said, it will continue to function as if it will remain in office endlessly.

He said the Palestinian government was facing “a big financial crisis.”

He said that based on a report by Finance Minister Shukri Bishara, the government has a debt of $4.2 billion.

He said $1.2 billion is for the Palestinian banks; $1 billion is debt for international institutions; $1 billion for the retirement fund and the remaining $1 billion for contractors, pharmaceutical companies and other Palestinian businesses.

Mustafa said that 70% of its revenues come from international aid and the tax funds Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority on good coming in through its ports.

“We do not have any control over this money and therefore until this change, any economic plan will remain short,” he said.

“We need quick financial resources, we need to watch our spending and we need to improve tax collection,” he said.

He said the economic situation was difficult with high cost of living, declining value of salaries, limited income and high unemployment.

M.S.

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