PA official: U.S. preventing funds from reaching Palestinians

By The Associated Press

Haaretz

Nisan 25, 5766

A stern U.S. warning to international financial institutions has made it impossible for the Palestinian Authority to receive funding since the Islamic Hamas group took power, a top Palestinian official said Saturday.

It was the first time a Palestinian official has admitted the U.S. has influenced financial institutions.

Israel, the United States, the European Union, Canada and other countries have frozen financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority since Hamas took power last month after sweeping January parliamentary elections.

In an attempt to help the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority make ends meet, Arab countries pledged to give the Palestinians $55 million in monthly aid.

But the United States has given orders to banks not to transfer money to a Hamas-led Palestinian government, Nabil Amr, a top aide to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said.

Abbas, Spanish FM discuss EU aid to Palestinians
Visiting Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met with the Spanish foreign minister in Amman on Saturday to appeal for resumed European financial aid to the Palestinians.

Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos reaffirmed Spain's commitment to assist the Palestinian people, but insisted that Hamas renounce violence, as he left his meeting with Abbas that was held behind closed doors at a Palestinian guest house in the Jordanian capital.

"We are not asking anything strange, " he said reiterating that the militant group also had to recognize Israel and existing agreements between the Palestinian Authority and the Jewish state.

"We will continue our help. This help will go to President Mahmoud Abbas, to his office, and to the humanitarian aid," Moratinos said.

"This help will be increased in some sectors," he added without elaborating.

The United States and the European Union cut off funds to the Palestinian Authority because of refusal of the Palestinian Hamas-led government to renounce violence and recognize Israel.

But both donors said humanitarian aid will continue and would be transferred in a way to bypass Hamas.

Officials from the militant Palestinian group have been flying around the Middle East to ask for aid to compensate for the shortfall in Western aid.

Abbas arrived in Jordan late Friday at the start of a tour that is expected to also take him to Turkey, Norway, Finland and France.

He was scheduled to hold a separate meeting later Saturday with Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit, whose government shunned the Palestinian Hamas foreign minister earlier this week, abruptly canceling his visit after accusing his militant group of stockpiling weapons and surveying potential targets in the kingdom.

Moratinos is in Jordan to prepare for a visit next week by Spanish King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.