US: PA sanctions expected to be lifted next week

A senior US diplomat on Saturday said he expects Washington to lift a 15-month economic embargo on the incoming Palestinian government next week, a move that would provide an important boost to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. "I expect that we are going to be engaged with this government," said Jacob Walles, the consul-general in Jerusalem. "I expect that early next week. There will be some announcements in Washington, specifically about our assistance and about the financial regulations." The US and other members of the "Quartet" of Mideast peacemakers imposed the sanctions last year after Hamas won legislative elections. Abbas expelled Hamas from the government following the group's takeover of the Gaza Strip, and is in the process of forming a new government that will not include members of the Islamic group.