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UPDATED: 09:47, March 01, 2006
UN envoy warns against cutting off financing of Palestinian authority
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The United Nations envoy for the Middle East Tuesday warned against the cutting off of financing of the Palestinian caretaker government, saying Palestinians might see it as a punishment for their democratic choice.

"We should be alert to the danger that cutting off assistance prior to the formation of a new government might be interpreted by the Palestinians and the Arab world as a punishment for the way the Palestinians voted in January," said Alvaro de Soto in a monthly briefing to the Security Council.

Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, won a resounding victory in the January Palestinian legislative polls, and has started to form a new government. The United States, the European Union and Israel have repeatedly warned to cut off the financing of the Palestinian government if Hamas fails to recognize Israel and renounce violence.

Israel, the occupying power, has already halted the monthly transfers of up to 55 million U.S. dollars in tax payments to the Palestinian authority.

De Soto described a functioning Palestinian National Authority as an essential building block for a Palestinian state and it was not something that could be turned on and off like a light switch.

It was through the authority that basic social and economic services, as well as salaries, were provided, he said, warning that if those salaries were not paid, the humanitarian, economic, institutional, political, and security consequences could be severe.

It was in that context that de Soto welcomed the decision announced Monday by the European Union to provide 143 million U.S. dollars of emergency assistance to the Palestinian authority.

Source: Xinhua

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