solana shalom 298 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
The European Union could cut off financial aid to the Palestinian Authority if Hamas wins the January elections, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana warned Sunday.
He said that, should the PA government include a faction that won't renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist, it would jeopardize the EU funds it currently receives.
"It would be very difficult for the help and the money that goes to the Palestinian Authority to continue to flow," he said. "The taxpayers in the European Union, members of the parliament of the European Union, will not be in a position to sustain that type of political activity."
Israeli officials, who have long argued against Hamas's participation in the upcoming elections, welcomed Solana's statements.
"We are satisfied," said a Foreign Ministry spokesman. "But we will be more satisfied if it will convince [PA Chairman] Mahmoud Abbas to take more steps against Hamas."
Palestinian leaders warned Sunday against "foreign interference in Palestinian internal affairs" and said Hamas was committed to running in the election.
The EU is presently contributing 259 million euros in aid to the Palestinian Authority - about one-third of the international funding the PA receives - and has indicated a willingness to contribute more in the future.
"All the political parties have the right to be part of the elections, but there is a certain code of conduct that has to be accepted by everybody," Solana said.
Hamas took several major West Bank cities in municipal elections last week, suggesting that it could make a strong showing in January's parliamentary elections.
Solana's comments follow a US House of Representatives vote threatening the PA with a loss of funding should Hamas participate in the elections. In a 397-17 tally on Friday, the House passed a resolution calling on the PA to require all terrorist groups to disarm and recognize Israel's right to exist in order to run in elections or face economic consequences, though such consequences would not take effect until next year, if ever.
Hamas is on both the US and EU lists of terror organizations.