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Palestinian President Abbas. 'Funds must go  through government' Photo: AP
Palestinian President Abbas. 'Funds must go through government' Photo: AP
 
 

EU rejects realignment plan

In statement issued by leaders of 25 member states, EU says will not recognize 'any change to pre-1967 border other than those agreed by both sides.' Meanwhile, Quartet endorses EU's decision to transfer aid to Palestinians

News Agencies
Published: 06.18.06, 08:16 / Israel News

Leaders of the 25 member states of the European Union issued a statement Friday rejecting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan for a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank.

 

The EU draft statement urged Israel to resume peace talks with Abbas, and said it "will not recognize any change to the pre-1967 border other than those agreed by both sides."

 

It also urged Abbas to disarm violent groups and halt attacks on Israel.

 

In a message to the Israelis, the EU condemned violence against Palestinian civilians and urged a halt to "any action that threatens the viability of an agreed two-state solution and from acts that are contrary to international law."

 

The statement referred in particular to the construction of Israel's West Bank security barrier and Jewish settlements in the area.

 

Quartet endorses EU aid to Palestinians

 

The diplomatic Quartet on Middle East peace endorsed a European Union proposal for a temporary mechanism to funnel aid to the Palestinians, bypassing the Hamas-led government.

 

Assistance
EU to transfer aid to Palestinians  / AFP
EU leaders approve USD 126 million aid package to Palestinians, to be transferred next month via funding mechanism
Full Story

In a statement, envoys for the Quartet, which groups the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, said it would revisit the need for the funding tool in three months.

 

The EU has already committed to channeling an aid package worth 100 million euros (USD 126 million) through the mechanism, which it backed in Brussels Friday.

 

"Mindful of the needs of the Palestinian people, the Quartet endorsed a European Union proposal for a temporary international mechanism, limited in scope and duration, which operates with full transparency and accountability," the statement said.

 

"The mechanism facilitates needs-based assistance directly to the Palestinian people, including essential equipment, supplies, and support for health services, support for the uninterrupted supply of fuel and utilities, and basic needs allowances to poor Palestinians," it said.

 

The statement said it hoped other donors, international organizations and Israel would consider channeling aid through the mechanism.

 

It urged the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government to renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to exist and accept international obligations including the Quartet's "roadmap" blueprint for Middle East peace.

Hamas-led government.

 

Abbas: This is not enough

 

"The mechanism is, I believe, not adequate because the funds must go through the government," Abbas told reporters after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.

 

"Though we consider this a step forward, it is not enough at all because it cancels the role of the government and cancels the role of the Palestinian Authority," he said.

 

Hamas gave a cautious welcome to the package but expressed reservations about how the money would be distributed.

 

"It's hard to judge matters until things become clear," said spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. "We welcome any support for our people as long as it does not come with conditions and as long as it goes to through the proper government channels."

 

The aid package agreed by European leaders in Brussels Friday is divided into three parts.

One part extends a program operated through the World Bank which provides essential supplies to the health sector, including money for those who work in hospitals and clinics.

 

The second reinforces an emergency relief scheme launched by the EU's executive European Commission earlier this year, and which ensures the supply of essential utilities like fuel.

 

The third -- which is more contentious and likely to take effect later - would see funds paid directly into the bank accounts of as-yet unidentified people based on their needs.

 

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