Uff, it’s too early, isn’t it? But, of course, do they need an excuse?
Wall Street Journal – 21 minutes ago
AP LUXEMBOURG — The European Union said Monday it will resume direct aid to the new Palestinian government of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and it urged Israel to restore the transfer of tax revenue to his West Bank administration.
Weep for Gaza Los Angeles Times
EU resumes aid to Palestinian Government Times Online
The European Union is to resume direct financial aid to the Palestinian Authority for the first time in 18 months in a bid to prop up the new government in the West Bank.
Javier Solana, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, said today that the move would send a message of support to the embattled President, Mahmoud Abbas, of the secular Fatah party, who sacked Hamas after the Islamists’ military takeover of the Gaza Strip.
Mr Abbas dismissed the fundamentalists’ leader Ismail Haniya as Prime Minister and appointed Salam Fayad, a political moderate, to the post at the end of last week. Hamas, however, has denounced his decision as a “coup” and announced that it would not recognise the administration.
The West has boycotted the Palestinian Government since Hamas was elected to power in January last year. The Islamists have rejected calls to recognise neighbouring Israel’s right to exist, renounce terrorism, and acknowledge previously signed interim peace agreements.
Mr Solana announced the intention to end the boycott as he spoke to reporters before a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
“There will be a direct relationship, economically also with the Government,” he said. “There will be a part of the money that will be direct.”
The EU foreign policy chief added that the bloc had confidence in Mr Fayyad, the US-trained economist and former Palestinian Finance Minister, to handle the funds.
“No doubt, part of it will go through the account that, when he was Minister of Finance, he had established and he will have kept as Prime Minister, so it will be a direct relationship with the Government,” Mr Solana said.
Despite refusing to have any dealings with Hamas, Mr Solana confirmed that the EU would also try to find a way to provide humanitarian aid to increasingly impoverished 1.4 million residents of the Gaza Strip, who have been largely cut off from the outside world since the Islamists seized power in a volley of gun battles which killed more than 100 mostly Fatah-affiliated fighters last week.
Key powers back Abbas government
Key international powers have publicly backed the new Palestinian Authority government, offering aid and support to an administration without Hamas.
US President Bush phoned Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas pledging to work with his new government, aides said.
The EU said it would “immediately” normalise ties with the government and also resume direct aid, while Israel said the new cabinet was a “partner”.
Mr Abbas sacked the previous government after Hamas seized control of Gaza.
In a separate development on Monday, one Palestinian was killed and several injured after Palestinian gunmen and Israeli soldiers exchanges of fire at the Erez crossing, the Israeli rescue service and Palestinian medics said.
The crossing is the main point for people travelling between Israel and Gaza.
In a 15-minute phone call with Mr Bush, Mr Abbas told the US president that the time was now right to push for new peace talks.
The US Consul-General in Jerusalem, Jacob Walles, met the new Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Monday to explain how the US could offer practical support to the new administration.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is to meet Mr Bush in Washington on Tuesday, said he considered the new Palestinian government a “genuine partner”.
And speaking at an EU meeting in Luxembourg, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni confirmed that up to $800m (£400m) of frozen tax revenues held by Israel would now be transferred to the Palestinian Authority.
“We are willing to work with those who support the two-state solution -those who understand and accept the right of Israel to exist,” she said.