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French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy urged continued aid to the Palestinians on Wednesday as he opened a European-Arab forum that focused on tensions over the rise of Hamas.
"France remains convinced that aid to the Palestinians should be maintained to avoid punishing the population, which expressed itself democratically," Douste-Blazy said. "We do not want to ignore the electoral reality emerging from the Palestinian ballot boxes that testifies to the discontent of the Palestinian opinion."
"Some have called for democracy and then objected to its result," accused Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.
The US, the EU, Canada and other countries have frozen financial assistance to the Palestinian government since Hamas took power last month, demanding that the group renounce violence, recognize Israel and adhere to previous agreements.
In an attempt to help the cash-strapped government make ends meet, Arab countries pledged at a March summit to give the Palestinians at least $55 million (NIS 250m.) in monthly aid.
The forum aims at encouraging dialogue between Europeans and Arabs and cooling tensions that have heated up over the rise of Hamas, Iran's nuclear program and the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in European newspapers.
"No progress will be sustainable if the international community doesn't engage in a determinant way in the resolution of crises and tensions that affect the Arab-Muslim world," Douste-Blazy said.
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