EU, US and Israel to resume aid to and lift financial sanctions against Palestine

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Monday, June 18, 2007

It was announced today that millions of dollars worth of foreign aid would once again be delivered to Palestine by the European Union. Aid to the Palestinian Authority had previously been ceased some 15 months ago when Hamas seized control. The announcement comes the day after Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas swore in a new emergency government in response to the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.

The announcement was made in Luxembourg by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, and is said to be due to Hamas no longer being a part of the Palestinian government. Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said "We absolutely have to back" the new government in the West Bank and that "The question of today is: How can we help the 1.4 million people in Gaza?"

Riyad al-Malki, the new Palestinian minister of information and justice, said of the event "There are encouraging steps. We hope that these steps will be carried out quickly."

Both the United States and Israel have also said they will lift financial restrictions against Palestine. Israel has withheld some $55 million a month in customs duties that it has collected on Palestine's behalf starting soon after Hamas took power, coming up to $550 million total, and Israel say they are considering releasing the money.

Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel, flew to the US this weekend and is scheduled to discuss the situation in Gaza with US President George Bush tomorrow. Upon his arrival, he informed reporters that "Israel would be a genuine partner of the new Palestinian government."

Israel and the US have said they will back the new government against Hamas. The U.S., EU and Israel all consider Hamas a terrorist group as they have killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombimgs.