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(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday urged the European Union to continue its financial aid despite Hamas's victory in the January 25 parliamentary election, PA officials said.
The appeal was made during a meeting between Abbas and EU Middle East special envoy Marc Otte, the officials added, noting that the talks were "positive and constructive." They said the two reviewed the latest developments in light of the formation of a new Hamas cabinet and Israel's raid on the Jericho prison last week.
In a statement following the meeting, Otte said plans for future work were set, pointing out that the EU would not stop supporting the Palestinian people and would remain their real partner. The EU has sent urgent aid to the PA worth 120 million Euros to meet urgent humanitarian needs, he said.
Otte also said that the EU would not halt humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, adding that the EU was looking forward to a full partnership with the Palestinians. He added that the EU was examining the policy of the new cabinet.
Earlier, the EU envoy met with PA negotiator Saeb Erekat, who demanded that the EU exert pressure on Israel to release Ahmed Saadat, the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who was arrested during the raid on the Jericho prison together with the assassins of tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi.
The Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council, which met here on Tuesday, decided to form a special commission of inquiry into the Jericho raid. The committee, headed by PLC Deputy Speaker Hassan Khraisheh, is supposed to present its findings to the council within 10 days.
The council called on the PA to raise the issue of the Jericho raid, and all Palestinian prisoners in Israel, at next month's Arab summit in Sudan. In addition, the council passed a resolution banning the PA from arresting people for political motives and from conducting security coordination with Israel.
Several legislators demanded that outgoing PA Interior Minister Nasser Youssef be summoned to the council for a hearing about the Jericho operation.
Legislator Khaledah Jarar (PFLP) called for a thorough investigation into the operation, saying the PA, along with the US and Britain, were responsible for the capture of Saadat and his friends.
"We want a parliamentary committee to investigate the raid on the Jericho prison," she said. "We also want to question the interior minister about his responsibility."
Many legislators expressed outrage at the fact that PA security officers who were inside the compound walked out in their underwear. "What happened in Jericho is an insult to the dignity of all Palestinians," said Bethlehem legislator Issa Karaki (Fatah).
Legislator Muhammad Dahlan (Fatah) said the Jericho operation should be seen in the context of the election campaign in Israel. "This is a political issue which should be referred to the [PA] Foreign Ministry," he said. "The PFLP detainees were just an excuse."
Erekat defended the security officers who surrendered to the IDF, saying they had formed a human shield to protect Saadat and his colleagues. "What Israel did in Jericho is part of a comprehensive plan to destroy the Palestinian Authority," he claimed. "That's why we should preserve the Palestinian Authority instead of calling for its dismantlement."
In the Gaza Strip, an armed group intercepted the vehicle carrying the commander of the PA police in Khan Yunis and severely beat him.
Eyewitnesses said at least five gunmen intercepted a military vehicle carrying Rizek Abu Shahma and three of his aides. They ordered Abu Shahma to step out of the car and beat him with the butts of their rifles, the witnesses said.
The commander was taken to a hospital where he was reported in serious condition. No group claimed responsibility. The attack followed Monday's fierce gun battles between dozens of Fatah gunmen and PA policemen in various parts of the Gaza Strip. At least 12 people were wounded in the clashes.
The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights strongly condemned the attack and called on the PA and its attorney-general to investigate the beating and to bring the perpetrators to court. The center also condemned Monday's armed clashes.