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Thursday, 21 February, 2002, 15:46 GMT
EU counts cost of Israeli-hit projects
The wreckage of the Voice of Palestine building
The Voice of Palestine building was partly financed by Denmark
The European Union is updating its assessment of the damage caused by Israeli military strikes to projects it funds in the Palestinian territories, an EU spokesman has said.


There is no total because we are assessing the damage

EU spokesman Gunnar Wiegand
In a letter of complaint to the Israeli Government sent on 4 February, the EU estimated the damage at 17.3 million euros ($15m) and warned that it might claim compensation.

But spokesman Gunnar Wiegand told reporters on Thursday that the EU was now re-evaluating the cost, after the latest Israeli actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"We are working on an update now," Mr Wiegand said. "There is no total because we are assessing the damage."

Peres in Spain

Spain currently holds the EU presidency, and the letter of complaint was written by Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique.

The issue was expected to be brought up in meetings between Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Spanish officials in Madrid on Thursday and Friday.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat inspects the damage to his Ramallah headquarters after the Israeli strike
Mr Arafat inspects damage caused by an Israeli strike
On Wednesday the EU expressed outrage over a "new explosion of terrorism and violence" in the Middle East.

Mr Wiegand said that the Voice of Palestine building, which was blown up on Wednesday in the Gaza Strip, was not financed by the EU, but did receive support from the Danish Government - the next in line for the EU presidency.

EU investments

Some of the damaged projects listed in the letter were Gaza airport, a hotel in Bethlehem, a statistics office, schools, a forensic laboratory, and an irrigation scheme for Jericho.

The EU is the principal source of foreign aid for the Palestinian territories.

Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, it has invested some 3.47 billion euros ($3bn) in Palestinian infrastructure and projects.

The Israeli Government has said in response that it is trying to avoid damage to civilian installations.

See also:

21 Feb 02 | Middle East
Israel pounds Palestinian targets
15 Feb 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
Arafat: Down but not out
20 Feb 02 | Middle East
Fear and pride in Ramallah
20 Feb 02 | Middle East
Palestinian militants 'change tactics'
21 Feb 02 | Middle East
Testing time for Sharon
21 Feb 02 | Middle East
Divided voices over MidEast
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