Sunday, January 29, 2006

Says EU
Can Not
Fund Hamas

German Chancellor Merkel is a tough leader:

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The European Union could not fund a Hamas-run Palestinian Authority if it did not renounce violence and recognize Israel, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Israel on Sunday.

It was the most explicit threat to cut aid from Europe, the biggest donor to the Palestinians, since Islamic militant group Hamas won a shock victory in parliamentary elections last week. The United States has also threatened to block funding.

Hamas, expected to form the new government, has denounced Western threats to cut aid as blackmail and rejected calls to disarm and end its formal commitment to destroy Israel.

"Such a Palestinian Authority cannot be directly supported by money from the EU," said Merkel, standing beside Israel's interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem at the start of her first visit to the region.

Diplomatic sources said Merkel consulted other European leaders before the two-day trip. Last year the European Union gave the Palestinian Authority 500 million euros ($615 million), money vital for its survival.
U.S. Secretary of State Rice said she believed the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and other powers involved in the Middle East were "on the same page" -- that funding must not go to Hamas and other groups that advocated destroying Israel.

In Washington, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Congress would cut funding unless Hamas changed, echoing President George W. Bush's pledge to withhold funds.

"Stopping international donations will not undermine the work of the government," said Hamas spokesman and elected legislator Mushir al-Masri, adding that the militant group could opt to seek government funding from Arab nations.

It could be that I am wrong, and Europe really will stand tough against terrorism. I hope so.