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Palestinian prime minister warns of cash crisis

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Palestinian self-rule government is in ‘‘extreme jeopardy’’ because of an unprecedented financial crisis, largely because Arab countries have failed to send hundreds of millions of dollars in promised aid, the Palestinian prime minister said Sunday.

The cash crunch has gradually worsened in recent years, and the Palestinian Authority now has reached the point of not being able to pay the salaries of about 150,000 government employees, Salam Fayyad said.

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The number of Palestinian poor is bound to quickly double to 50 percent of the population of roughly 4 million if the crisis continues, Fayyad said. ‘‘The status quo is not sustainable,’’ he said in an interview at his West Bank office.

The Palestinian Authority, set up two decades ago as part of interim peace deals with Israel, was meant to be temporary and replaced by a state of Palestine, which was to be established through negotiations with Israel. But for the past four years the two sides have been unable to agree on the terms of resuming negotiations.

In late November, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas won UN recognition of a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, overriding Israeli objections to the largely symbolic step.

On Sunday, Abbas asked his West Bank-based government to prepare for replacing the words ‘‘Palestinian Authority’’ with ‘‘State of Palestine’’ in all public documents, including ID cards, driving licenses and passports.

Israeli officials declined to comment, including on whether Israel would prevent Palestinians with new ID cards and passports from crossing borders and checkpoints.

The UN bid gave the Palestinians new diplomatic leverage by affirming the borders of a future state of Palestine in lands Israel captured in 1967, but changed little in the day-to-day lives of Palestinians.

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