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Last Updated: Monday, 19 June 2006, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
EU set to release Palestinian aid
Palestinians in Gaza City receive food aid from the UN
The UN has started to distribute emergency food aid
Palestinians could begin to receive direct emergency aid by the beginning of July, an EU envoy has suggested.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner briefed Israel's foreign minister on the "temporary mechanism" to allow to flow of aid.

Under terms agreed by the "Quartet" of Middle East peace brokers, the EU will give 100m euros ($126m) but will bypass the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

Western aid was frozen after Hamas won elections but refused to renounce violence or recognise Israel.

Many Palestinians have suffered severe economic hardship following the move, which prompted aid organisations to warn of a humanitarian crisis.

Ms Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's external relations commissioner, was also due to meet Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, but will not meet Hamas officials.


The Quartet, made up of the US, the EU, the UN and Russia, announced that they would back an EU proposal to provide support for local health services, guarantee fuel supplies and provide for the basic needs of poor Palestinians.

Palestinians in Gaza City receive food aid from the UN
The Quartet will review its plan after three months

But after talks with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Ms Ferrero-Waldner insisted no money would be available to the Palestinian government unless three conditions were met.

Those requirements are the recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence and an acceptance of past agreements.

"We have devoted the mechanism to meet the essential needs of the Palestinian people without passing through the PA," she said.

But she added: "It cannot be business as usual with this government until it recognises the three conditions."

Recipients of aid donations would be carefully vetted, she said.

Ms Livni said Israel, which withholds monthly tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority, would study the Quartet's proposals.

The BBC's Nick Childs in Jerusalem says the hope is that the temporary and limited move by the Quartet can relieve some of the hardships for ordinary Palestinians.

What impact it will have beyond that is not clear, our correspondent says.


On Sunday, the Hamas-led government gave a guarded welcome to the plan.

A Hamas spokesman said any funds for impoverished Palestinians were welcome, but he argued that in bypassing the elected government, the Quartet was undermining democracy.

The PA is heavily dependent on foreign aid and on donor countries.

The EU gives about 500m euros ($632m) a year to the Palestinians, making it by far the biggest aid donor.

However, public employees will not directly benefit from the new aid plan.

The Hamas government has turned to other countries for assistance and hundreds of millions of dollars have been given or promised by Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and many other countries.

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