International aid to the Palestinians increased by nearly 10 percent following Hamas's election victory, the United Nations under-secretary general for political affairs told the UN Security Council on Thursday. Ibrahim Gambari said on the anniversary of Hamas's win that aid to Palestinians in 2006 had actually increased, despite the reassessment of donor programs and the cessation of financial transfers by Israel to the Palestinians. He said that most of the aid was bypassing the Palestinian government. "Total assistance to Palestinians last year - not including funds channeled to the Palestinian Authority government or Hamas by regional donors - had been $1.2 billion, which represented a nearly 10% increase over 2005," a UN press release said. Gambari said that humanitarian assistance alone had doubled since 2004 and primarily took the form of food aid and cash-for-work programs. He added, however, that real gross domestic product per capita had actually declined in 2006 by at least 8%, and poverty levels had increased some 30%. During the briefing, Gambai spoke of the need to jump-start the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He said he considered the upcoming meeting of the Quartet slated for February 2 in Washington an important opportunity to revitalize the process. Quoted as stating, "None of us can afford another year like the last one in Lebanon and the Middle East," Gambari cited periods of heightened levels of instability and suffering and said there was a sense of international urgency to find a political way ahead. Gambari, who addressed a broad range of issues including internal Israeli and Palestinian matters, also decried Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, saying that the number of "West Bank settlersâ€¦had increased by nearly six percent since 2005."