Aid to Palestinians greater than previous years

Despite a boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian government, the European Union has found ways to increase its total aid to the Palestinian people, most recently helping support thousands of needy families, an EU official said Tuesday. The EU said its contribution to the Palestinians has increased by 27 percent from last year, to €651 million (US$865 million), though the EU, United States and Israel have banned direct aid to the Palestinian government. One tool is a temporary funding mechanism that funnels money directly to the people and projects, bypassing the government. The EU and its member states have contributed €200 million (US$266 million) to the temporary mechanism, administered by the World Bank. The "Quartet" of Mideast mediators - the EU, US, Russia and United Nations - set up the temporary funding procedure in July, as economic hardships from the aid cutoff hit ordinary Palestinians because of their choice of a Hamas-led government.