EU to sign urgent aid deal for Palestinians

The EU will sign a deal Monday with the United Nations granting Ђ 64 million (US$78 million) in urgent aid for Palestinians, but much more in future funding is under threat after the formation of a government by Hamas, which the Europeans consider to be a terrorist group.

The EU foreign ministers will debate the impact of a Hamas government, as will the 25 EU leaders at a Brussels summit later in the week.

Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, whose country holds the EU presidency, said "Hamas is at a crossroads."

She told reporters the Islamic organization "will have to decide which road to take, how to face its responsibility" toward the well-being of Palestinians. "Our message has been clear and consistent."

The EU has insisted it will only work with Hamas if it commits to peace. "We'll look at what (Hamas) adopts as its program, what it says about key issues" such as recognizing Israel and Middle East peace, said an EU diplomat, who asked not to be named given the sensitive nature of EU-Palestinian relations.

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner is to sign the emergency aid deal at a ceremony with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which provides education, health, social and other services for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, reports the AP.


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