EU adjusts Palestinian aid program to target government's goals

The European Union agreed Monday to adjust its Palestinian aid program to target the economic reforms and other specific aims of the government of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad. Foreign ministers from the 27 EU nations endorsed a plan drawn up by the European Commission to focus the bloc's aid on sustainable, long-term economic development starting Feb. 1. The exact amount is unknown, but officials said they expect overall European aid to continue at the current level of about €1 billion ($1.47 billion) a year over the next three years. "The European Union is strongly committed to support the PA's reform and development priorities," said EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. The new aid program replaces a temporary deal, monitored by the World Bank, that paid cash directly to destitute Palestinians when regular foreign aid dried up after a stridently anti-Israel Hamas government came to power in 2006.