Japan to resume direct aid to Palestinians

Japan will resume direct aid to the moderate Palestinian government, after shunning its Hamas-led predecessor for more than a year, a top Japanese envoy announced Monday. Deputy Ambassador Kuninori Matsuda said the $20 million Japanese aid package will be dispersed in eight payments to support the Palestinian government and provide humanitarian relief to the residents of the Gaza Strip. Japan has avoided providing direct aid to the Palestinians since the Islamic Hamas militant group came to power in March 2006. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired that government after Hamas took over Gaza by force in mid-June and replaced it with a Cabinet of moderates. Japan's foreign minister, Taro Aso, will inform the Palestinians of the aid package directly, when he meets Wednesday in the West Bank town of Jericho with his Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian counterparts.