When will the Palestinian people wise up? Can these people make one smart choice in trying to help themselves? Between shooting guns in the air and forgetting that the law of gravity will soon return those projectiles back to earth, and putting terrorists in power makes one wonder if they will ever have an independent state. At least the Bolivians made a good choice.
Hamas faces EU threat to cut Palestinian aid
Sun Jan 29, 2006 3:57 PM ET
By Louis Charbonneau
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The European Union could not fund a Hamas-run Palestinian Authority if it did not renounce violence and recognize Israel, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Israel on Sunday.
It was the most explicit threat to cut aid from Europe, the biggest donor to the Palestinians, since Islamic militant group Hamas won a shock victory in parliamentary elections last week. The United States has also threatened to block funding.
Hamas, expected to form the new government, has denounced Western threats to cut aid as blackmail and rejected calls to disarm and end its formal commitment to destroy Israel.
"Such a Palestinian Authority cannot be directly supported by money from the EU," said Merkel, standing beside Israel's interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem at the start of her first visit to the region.
Diplomatic sources said Merkel consulted other European leaders before the two-day trip. Last year the European Union gave the Palestinian Authority 500 million euros ($615 million), money vital for its survival.
U.S. Secretary of State Rice said she believed the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and other powers involved in the Middle East were "on the same page" -- that funding must not go to Hamas and other groups that advocated destroying Israel.
In Washington, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Congress would cut funding unless Hamas changed, echoing President George W. Bush's pledge to withhold funds.
"Stopping international donations will not undermine the work of the government," said Hamas spokesman and elected legislator Mushir al-Masri, adding that the militant group could opt to seek government funding from Arab nations.
OLMERT VOWS TO BOYCOTT HAMAS GOVERNMENT
The foreign support buttressed Olmert's stand on boycotting any Palestinian government including Hamas members unless the group stops fighting and accepts all agreements that Palestinian leaders have signed.
"These principles are acceptable to the international community. I do not intend to make any compromise on this matter," said Olmert.
He also said that Israel was considering whether to delay paying tax money collected on behalf of the Palestinians. Political sources said Israel might withhold a monthly payment that is due to be made this week.
Merkel is the first European Union leader to visit the area since the Palestinian vote swept out President Mahmoud Abbas's long-dominant Fatah movement. She is shunning Hamas, but will meet Abbas in Ramallah on Monday.
Fatah leaders have so far rejected joining any coalition with Hamas, whose anti-corruption platform, charity network and nearly 60 suicide bombings in Israel since a Palestinian uprising began in 2000, propelled it to victory.
Hamas has largely abided by a ceasefire Abbas reached with Israel, and Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz was quoted in media reports as saying the Islamic group was "behaving responsibly" and would likely continue to curb attacks.
Israel and the Palestinians have not held peace talks in five years and the U.S.-backed "road map" to a settlement has been stalled by violence on both sides.
In Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, a local Hamas leader, Mahmoud Ramahi, ruled out political talks with Israel but not contacts with Israeli officials on public works and health issues affecting daily life.
(Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Mohammed Assadi in Ramallah, Sue Pleming in London and Corinne Heller and Louis Charbonneau in Jerusalem)
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