EU: Too early to decide on PA gov't aid

Solana welcomes new coalition, but says need time to consider resuming funds.

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March 15, 2007 15:28
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European Union officials said Thursday it was still too early to decide whether to resume direct aid to the Palestinian Authority government. The rival Hamas and Fatah movements completed the formation of a unity government on Thursday, and the legislature is scheduled to vote on the coalition Saturday. EU spokeswoman Emma Udwin told reporters the European Commission had not yet assessed the program of the new PA unity government. "We need to study the program and the actions of the new government very carefully and of course ... to consult with our partners as well in order to take a decision on how and indeed whether it is possible to gradually re-engage," she said. The EU, Israel, the US and others have insisted since Hamas came to political power last year that the radical Islamic group renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. Because Hamas refused to do so, the EU and others froze direct aid to the government. The Palestinians hoped that by bringing members of the Fatah faction, which is perceived as more moderate, into a power-sharing administration with Hamas, they could end the aid embargo. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana welcomed the formation of a unity government but also said the international community needed more time to evaluate its positions. "As we have said many times, we are going to wait and see. ... There are many important things taking place now," Solana told reporters outside a meeting of foreign ministers from the EU and Southeast Asian countries in Nuremberg, Germany. Solana said he had spoken by phone Wednesday night with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas about the formation of the new government. Solana said more diplomatic efforts were planned. He mentioned a March 28 Arab League summit, as well as another meeting of the Quartet of Middle East mediators, which he said would probably take place in mid-April in the Middle East.


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