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Palestinian parties

Washington Cuts All Aid to Palestinian Authority

Palestinian parties, Hamas 55%

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One week after the Palestinian Authority (PA) swore in its new Hamas-led government, the United States Friday announced that it will suspend all direct aid to the PA while sharply increasing humanitarian assistance to the people under its control. The move, which followed a similar announcement by the European Commission (EC) Thursday, comes as the PA, which was unable to pay its 140,000 employees last month, faces total financial collapse.  "Because the new Hamas-led Palestinian government has failed to accept the Quartet principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel, and respect for previous agreements between the parties," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack in reference to conditions for aid to Hamas agreed in February by the U.S., the European Union (EU), Russia and the United Nations, "the United States is suspending assistance to the Palestinian government's cabinet and ministries." McCormack also released a statement from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pledging to restore the assistance if the conditions are met "or a new government comes to power that accepts them". The desire for "regime change" in the Palestinian territories was underlined by a fact sheet released by the State Department which noted that Washington will provide 42 million dollars in assistance that "protects and promotes moderation and democratic alternatives to Hamas". In a briefing shortly afterwards, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, David Welch, also repeatedly stressed that, despite its sweeping parliamentary victory, Hamas won only about 45 percent of the vote. "Fifty-five percent of those who voted in the election did not vote for Hamas," he said, adding that U.S. policymakers wanted to "give them some hope (that) their voice will be heard". Welch also stressed continued U.S. support for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, since the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Fatah party have endorsed the three conditions set forth by the Quartet. The announcement, which followed a lengthy review after Hamas swept parliamentary elections in January, was not unexpected. Under U.S. law, Washington is forbidden to provide any aid to organisations that appear on the State Department's "terrorism list".


Indeed, the Bush administration this week successfully sought amendments to pending legislation to prohibit all bilateral aid to a Hamas-led PA that would permit it to provide such aid if "it was important to the national security interests of the United States". Under the State Department aid plan, Washington will increase its contribution to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency from 100 million dollars to 130 million dollars. It also plans to increase food aid to the Palestinian territories from 10 million dollars to 60 million dollars and to increase "democracy"-related aid, including "alternatives to Hamas" from 30 million dollars to 42 million dollars. At the same time, it will suspend or cancel 45 million dollars in direct assistance to the PA and 130 million dollars in infrastructure projects in which PA min. stries play some role.



autor: Jim Lobe

source: www.ipsnews.net


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