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In response to the US and EU decision to cut off financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, Hamas launched a fund-raising drive Thursday in the Arab and Muslim world, calling for donations to support the new cabinet.
Backed by the Arab League, the appeals are being made on TV stations and Web sites, where donors are asked to send money to an account at the Arab Bank in Cairo.
The Hamas Web site published a "public appeal to support the steadfastness of our Palestinian brothers and to foil the Zionist plans aimed at forcing them to give up their legitimate national rights."
PA Planning Minister Samir Abu Aisha said the drive is not expected to be a main source of income, but rather a symbolic gesture, one of sharing among Arabs to show their support for the Palestinian people.
He expressed hope that he would have some "good news" in the coming days. He said talks have been under way with countries that have large Muslim populations, including Turkey, Indonesia, and Malaysia for some immediate relief to the cash crisis in the PA.
Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar will begin a five-day trip to Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait starting Friday to raise money.
Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Aziz Dweik announced on Wednesday that a young girl had donated her life savings to the Hamas cabinet.
Dweik said the girl had donated 1,359 Jordanian dinars (approximately $2,000), a vendor gave his day's takings of NIS 400, while an old man gave NIS 3,000.
"The old man said we are ready to give you the money we use to buy food for our children rather than kneel down because no one should compromise on their rights," Dweik said.
He urged Arab and Islamic countries to support the Palestinians. "Our brothers should not fill their stomach with food while we starve and they should not have clothes on their back while we go naked," he said.
"We urge the Arab governments and people to act at a level equal to the foreign pressure on the Palestinian people, who cannot compromise on their rights. At this difficult time, we are in dire need for the people and government of our nation to stand by us to overcome this pressure," he added.
Meanwhile, PA Finance Minister Omar Abdel Razek denied on Thursday rumors that the PA civil servants would receive their salaries for April next week. He also denied that some Arab countries had provided the PA with financial aid.
Hamas has called for mass demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip following Friday prayers in protest against the US and EU decision to suspend funds to the PA.