Abbas: PA will return $50 million in US aid

The Palestinian government has agreed to return $50 million in special aid given by the US government, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday. The US asked for the money after the violent Islamic Hamas won parliamentary elections. However, the actual transfer of funds has not taken place, Palestinian officials said. On Saturday, the new Hamas-dominated parliament was sworn in, and Abbas said he would choose a Hamas leader as the new prime minister on Monday. Hamas, which has sent dozens of suicide bombers into Israel, is considered a terror group by the US, European Union and Israel. On Friday, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Washington requested return of the money to ensure that "these funds not potentially make their way into the coffers of a future Palestinian government that might not recognize the right of Israel to exist." Talking to reporters in Gaza on Sunday, Abbas said he agreed to return the funds and would discuss the matter with US envoys in the coming days.