Belgium takes lead in pressuring Hamas

1st February 2006, Comments 0 comments

1 February 2006, BRUSSELS — Belgian Overseas Development Minister Armand De Decker is taking an international lead in applying pressure on the Palestinian militant group Hamas. As the EU warns it will cut aid to the Palestinian territories in light of Hamas' victory at recent elections, a spokesman for the Belgian minister said on Tuesday De Decker had already decided against giving the go-ahead to two new aid projects.

1 February 2006

BRUSSELS — Belgian Overseas Development Minister Armand De Decker is taking an international lead in applying pressure on the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

As the EU warns it will cut aid to the Palestinian territories in light of Hamas' victory at recent elections, a spokesman for the Belgian minister said on Tuesday De Decker had already decided against giving the go-ahead to two new aid projects.

These projects involved supplying electricity to villages on the West Bank and foreign aid for the economic recovery of the Gaza Strip.

The two projects involve a sum of at least EUR 4 million. The money was to be donated to the reconstruction programme under the leadership of James Wolfensohn, the special envoy for the Quartet, namely the US, Russia, the EU and the UN.
 
"The existing projects will continue as normal," the spokesman stressed, adding that that Belgian humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territories rose significantly in recent years from EUR 4.5 million in 2001 to EUR 10.6 million in 2004.

And De Decker realises there is "a very big chance" that the suspension of the new projects will impact on the Palestinian population.

"Many Palestinians have voted for change, but in spite of this they don't want the violent character of Hamas. They must now convince Hamas to change its position," De Decker told newspaper 'La Libre'.

"If the population suffers, they can in a democracy rectify the situation by forcing new elections".

De Decker's decision means Belgium is one step ahead of the Quartet, which decided in London on Monday night that it was unavoidable that future assistance for the Palestinian government will be re-examined.

It said this inevitability was based on the principles of non-violence, the recognition of the state of Israel and the acceptance of previous agreements and obligations.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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