Aid mechanism for Palestinians

The European Union has offered to create a system, the quartet — the United States, EU, Russia and the United Nations — said in a statement after a day long meeting at the UN headquarters in New York.

The quartet “expressed its willingness to endorse a temporary international mechanism that is limited in scope and duration, operates with full transparency and accountability, and ensures direct delivery of any assistance to the Palestinian people.”

It called on donors and international organisations to consider taking part and pressed Israel to take steps to improve the humanitarian situation of the Palestinians.

Hamas’ responsibilities

It also reiterated that the Hamas-led government must fulfil its responsibilities regarding “basic human needs, including health services, as well as proper fiscal management and provision of services.”

“Everybody understands that something must be done,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters during a break in the meeting.

The United States and EU have frozen direct aid to the Hamas-led government because of the militant group’s support of violence against Israel.

Hamas is on US and EU terrorist blacklists. But with 160,000 Palestinian government workers clamoring for their salaries and fears mounting of increasing chaos in the territories, a source close to the quartet negotiations said the US was softening.

The money-starved Palestinian Authority may cease to function if government employees continue to go without salaries for much longer, the World Bank warned in a report released on Monday.

Guns outlawed

Meanwhile the Palestinian Hamas-led government and the former ruling Fatah faction have outlawed the carrying of arms, issuing a joint statement announcing the unprecedented measure.

“Anyone who carries arms will be considered outside the law,” Fatah spokesman Ahmed Hilles told a joint press conference with Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh.

The statement followed an emergency meeting in Gaza City aimed at ending a spate of armed clashes between Fatah and Hamas militants.

A total of 14 Palestinians were injured in armed factional fighting on
Tuesday, the day bafter similar Fatah-Hamas clashes left three people dead in the southern Gaza Strip.

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