Support of Social Protection
The protracted crisis situation in the Palestinian Territories, linked to the stagnation of the Middle East Peace Process and the fact that Palestine has not yet attained 'statehood', continues to require specific temporary support measures to contribute to the maintenance of the viability of the two-state solution. In the absence of successful peace negotiations, the Palestinian economy will continue to be unsustainable and dependent on donor aid. One major target of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) is to encourage the Palestinian people on their way to the two-state solution by supporting the Palestinian Authority (PA) in building efficient democratically legitimate and accountable institutions for a future sovereign democratic state.
In this context ADA supports the EU-PEGASE mechanism (Méchnisame 'Palestino-Européen de Gestion et d'Aide Socio-Economique) which was launched in 2008 and since then assists the PA in its effort to pursue the fundamental values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. This year's Austrian financial contribution amounts to 1.25 million Euros. The Austrian transfer specifically contributes to the component supporting the Palestinian social protection system (Vulnerable Palestinian Families, VPF).
Vulnerable Palestinian Families
The PEGASE social protection component supports the quarterly payment of social allowances through the PA's national cash transfer programme (CTP), and thereby assists poor and vulnerable Palestinian families living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The CTP aims to sustain households living in extreme poverty and eligible - as determined on the basis of household size and welfare status - to receive cash assistance. The Austrian transfer contributes to the first quarterly payment in Spring 2017. It may benefit approximately 38,000 people, which is roughly equivalent to 6,350 families. In total, this year's first quarterly payment contribution amounts to 11.75 million Euros, covered together by the EU (10 million Euros), Austria (1.25 million Euros) and Ireland (500.000 Euros).
Building the future Palestinian State
''Cash transfers are only one side of the coin.'', emphasizes Ralph Tarraf, EU Head of Delegation of West Bank and Gaza Strip, ''At the same time, the Ministry of Social Development endeavours to implement more inclusive and comprehensive actions to improve social development.'' The Deputy Head of Delegation, Tomas Niklasson, further adds, ''This is particularly crucial in Gaza, where we are facing alarming and increasing poverty rates." The overall objective of PEGASE is therefore to promote the Palestinian National Policy Agenda (2017-2022), which aims to build strong governmental institutions as the basis for the future independent Palestinian state. This is also consistent with the EU Joint Strategy for Palestine (2017-2020), which was adopted in December 2016.