July 1, 2009 / 11:08 AM / 9 years ago

Palestinian minister offers to quit over Jerusalem budget

RAMALLAH, West Bank, July 1 (Reuters) - The Palestinian Authority's minister for Jerusalem said on Wednesday he had tendered his resignation in protest at the level of funding he had to defend Palestinian interests in Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad had so far refused to accept his resignation, however, Hatem Abdel-Qader told Reuters.

Appointed only six weeks ago in a cabinet reshuffle, Abdel-Qader complained that the finance ministry, which is headed by Fayyad, was holding back payments to lawyers engaged to fight cases in Israeli courts against demolition orders made by Israel on Palestinian homes in Jerusalem.

"Homes are being demolished because we cannot pay for court appeals," Abdel-Qader told Reuters, adding that he typically needed $5,000 to $15,000 to fight a case.

"We have lost dozens of cases because we cannot afford lawyers," he said, referring to legal action that could not be pursued.

No comment was immediately available from Fayyad, who has said he faces chronic financial crisis, notably due to a failure by foreign governments to make good on pledges of aid.

The prime minister, a politically independent technocrat, appointed Abdel-Qader and several other members of President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement to a reshaped government in May, responding to pressure from Fatah for more say in government.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem and neighbouring areas of the West Bank after occupying the territory in 1967 and has declared its Jerusalem municipality its united and eternal capital.

That status is not recognised by international powers which support negotiations in which Palestinians are seeking at least a share of the city as the capital of their own future state.

Palestinians accuse Israel of trying to drive them from the city by bureaucratic measures, including the demolition of homes built without municipal approvals, which are hard to obtain. (Reporting by Mohammed Assadi; Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Samia Nakhoul) (For blogs and links on Israeli politics and other Israeli and Palestinian news, go to blogs.reuters.com/axismundi)




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