Friday

3rd Feb 2023

EU ministers to tackle Hamas puzzle

  • The EU is the world's biggest donor to the Palestinian administration (Photo: thesetides.com)

EU foreign ministers are set on Monday (29 January) to discuss their response to the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections, with the German chancellor hinting over the weekend that the EU could cut its funding to the Palestinian Authority.

The ministers' meeting in Brussels has prioritised the situation in the Middle East on its agenda, with Hamas registered by the EU as a terrorist group and calls to scrap EU financial aid to the new regime.

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The EU is the biggest donor to the Palestinian Authority, with member states and the European Commission putting aside around €500 million per year since 2003.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has already made clear Berlin is not ready to keep funding the Palestinian administration if Hamas continues it spolicy of armed resistance against Israel.

On her visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories over the weekend, she said Hamas should recognise Israel’s right to exist and accept the achievements of the peace process.

She stressed that within the EU, there is "very, very big agreement" on the line to take towards Hamas, German media report.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas indicated he will resign if Hamas fails to achieve international support, resulting in a drop of financial aid to the Palestinians.

Mr Abbas, the moderate successor of the late Yassir Arafat as the leader of Fatah and the current president of the administration, is the main point of contact for both the EU and other international players with Hamas keen to keep him in his position.

Hamas' political leader Khaled Meshall, one of Israel's most wanted men, said on Saturday that the group would work with the international community, AFP reported.

"We will carry out reforms as soon as possible. We will coordinate with Arab countries, Muslim countries, European countries and all the international community," he said.

But he added "For as long as we are under occupation, resistance is our unassailable right" European media say.

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