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Thursday, 12 April, 2001, 00:37 GMT 01:37 UK
EU: Israel must release Palestinian tax

The European Union has urged Israel to release an estimated one-hundred-and twenty-million dollars in Palestinian tax receipts it's been holding since December last year.

The appeal was made after an informal meeting in Sweden of representatives from donor states and international financial institutions held to discuss ways of trying to help ease the Palestinian economic crisis. The meeting in Stockholm was called jointly by Norway and Sweden.

Those taking part included officials from the United States, the European Union, several Arab countries, and financial institutions including the World Bank. In a separate development, the United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, issued a strongly worded statement saying that Israel should end its six-month blockade of Palestinian areas in Gaza and the west Bank.

Mr Annan said security measures alone would not halt the current bloodshed. The crisis between the Israelis and the Palestinians has brought about a fifty per cent drop in the Palestinian Authority's gross domestic product.

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