U.S. Envoy Meets With Palestinian Leaders

The United States should not cut off aid to the Palestinians, Palestinian officials told a senior U.S. envoy Saturday, in the first high-level meeting between the two sides.

U.S. Envoy Meets With Palestinian Leaders

The United States and the European Union, the Palestinian Authority's main donors, have threatened to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in financial backing if Hamas doesn't abandon its campaign against Israel. With that threat looming, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who favors peacemaking with Israel, again warned in comments published Saturday that he would quit if Hamas didn't change its ways.

At the same time, Abbas urged the international community to give the Hamas a grace period.

"I think they are now responsible, and in order to assume responsibilities, their policies have to be compatible with international polices," the Irish Independent newspaper quoted Abbas as telling Britain's ITV network, in an interview to be broadcast Sunday.

Asked if he would step aside if peacemaking remains elusive, Abbas replied, "We could reach a point where I cannot perform my duty. Then, I will not continue sitting in this place, against and in spite of my convictions. If I can do something I will continue, otherwise I won't."

"We urged the U.S. administration to continue helping the Palestinian people, as it did in previous years," Erekat said after the meeting. "They have never transferred a single dollar to the Palestinian Authority directly. The money was being transferred via non-governmental organizations."

Welch declined to speak to reporters. Erekat said the U.S. envoy told him, without specifying, that Washington would continue helping the Palestinians, but would redirect U.S. aid.

On Friday, EU officials said they would continue supporting the Palestinian Authority during the transition period, but hadn't decided what to do once Hamas takes over. EU officials said they want to keep supporting Abbas, who continues to wield considerable power and is seen as a counterweight to Hamas.

Also Friday, Hamas announced that it would travel to Moscow in early March for talks with Russian officials. Russia's invitation to Hamas has angered Israel, which is seeking to isolate the militant group. Israel also condemned Turkey after Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul met in Ankara last week with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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