Six hospitals in East Jerusalem, including the Lutheran World Federation’s Augusta Victoria Hospital, face difficulties because of the Palestinian Authority’s financial crisis. The PA is dependent upon foreign aid, which has been reduced from the Gulf States and Washington. Washington withheld $192 million because President Abbas has said he would continue to strive for observer status at the UN. The PA has built up debts of $18 million to the specialized healthcare centers this year. The World Bank forecasts a $1.5 billion deficit in the 2012 PA budget due to the shortfall in foreign aid.
“The moment the PA faces any financial difficulty, it stops paying. But the hospital must still take in patients,” Tawfiq Nasser, head of the Augusta Victoria Hospital, told Reuters. “We can no longer offer the same services and that is putting patients at risk, endangering their lives.” [Read the Peace Not Walls bulletin at this link.]
Students in the West Bank and Gaza face many obstacles in their quest for higher education. Several indicators show that Palestinians are among the most educated in the Arab world despite the hardships caused by the occupation and blockade. The students’ struggles received worldwide attention this week after the U.S. State Department withdrew scholarships for students in Gaza after Israeli authorities would not permit them to travel to the West Bank from Gaza.
Gaza student Amal Ashour, 18, is a student who recently studied in Minnesota during her senior year through a U.S. government funded program. This fall she planned to study in a West Bank university with financial support also provided by the U.S., however a month before school started, she was informed that her U.S. scholarship was no longer available.
According to the Associated Press, “Under Israeli pressure, U.S. officials have quietly canceled a two-year-old scholarship program for students in the Gaza Strip, undercutting one of the few American outreach programs to people in the Hamas-ruled territory.” [Read the full story at this link.]
Jimmy Carter and the Elders in Jerusalem
In case you didn't see news coverage of President Carter's most recent trip to Jerusalem, together with other Elders (Nobel Peace Prize winners), see the story at this link.
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