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Washington cuts direct aid to Palestinians

However, the United States said that it would step up humanitarian assistance to Palestinians.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2006 08:36 IST

The US has said it would freeze all direct aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government but step up humanitarian assistance to Palestinians and funding to promote moderate "alternatives" to the radical group.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement that "the US is suspending assistance to the Palestinian government's cabinet and ministries" since the new Hamas administration refused to accept "principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel and respect for previous agreements".

She said the government of Hamas, which catapulted to power in January parliamentary elections, "must take responsibility for the consequences of its policies".

Washington had put funding to the Palestinian government under review after the elections but decided yesterday to freeze the aid.

The move came just after the European Union suspended all direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, with the group's foreign ministers scheduled to meet on Monday to further discuss the issue.

US officials on Friday asked other governments to follow suit to pressure Hamas to return to the road map for Middle East peace, which calls for the creation of a Palestinian state that can co-exist with Israel.

Officials said more than $400 million of planned direct assistance, including for key infrastructure projects, would be suspended, cancelled or put under review.

Some of the money would be channeled to humanitarian aid, including food, education and health.

Basic humanitarian assistance will increase by 57 per cent from $153 million before the elections to more than $240 million, said David Welch, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and North African Affairs.