(photo credit: AP [file])
The European Union on Wednesday urged Israel to transfer tax funds to the Palestinian Authority. EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero- Waldner said that freezing funds increases the suffering of the Palestinian people, and prevents the PA from operating.
Ferrero also criticized Israel for closing the border crossings to the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported.
Also on Wednesday, Arab League Secretary Amr Moussa appealed to the EU to renew the flow of aid to the PA.
Two weeks ago, European Union foreign ministers endorsed a freeze of EU aid to the Palestinian Authority government, but said they would seek alternative ways of providing money for humanitarian projects, Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot said after a meeting of 25 EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
'There will be no aid to [Hamas] government organizations, but we will maintain humanitarian aid,' Bot said. 'The Palestinian people have opted for this government, so they will have to bear the consequences.'
Ferrero said Europe continued to 'stand by the Palestinian people.' It would continue to provide money for electricity, food, education and other projects, so 'their basic human needs will be met in the future,' she added.
European officials said that some low level-contact with Hamas functionaries to provide this aid might be necessary. The EU now hopes to use international organizations to channel this assistance.
Israeli diplomatic officials said after the meeting that they were satisfied that the EU had decided to endorse the EU executive commission's recommendation last Friday to suspended direct aid to the PA and to continue the policy of refraining from holding any political or diplomatic dialogue with Hamas.