Mashaal rejects EU warning to halt aid to PA

The political leader of Hamas Khaled Mashaal on Monday rejected the European Union's warning to halt aid to the Palestinian Authority if the Hamas wins next month's parliamentary elections but fails to renounce violence. Mashaal dismissed the EU's move as "a flagrant interference" in the Palestinians' internal affairs and urged the Palestinian Authority not to bow to EU pressure. "So long as people have opted for democracy, they should respect its results and should not confiscate the right of the Palestinian people to choose (their leaders)," Mashaal said. The Palestinians receive about US$1 billion (€830 million) a year in international aid - about half the Palestinian Authority's budget - and EU assistance is slated to reach €260 million (US$312 million) in 2006.