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Palestinian Aid

The United States is increasing its humanitarian aid to help the Palestinian people. Basic humanitarian assistance, including health, food, and education, will increase by fifty-seven percent for a total of some two-hundred-forty-five million dollars. The U.S. will also provide forty-two million dollars to strengthen civil society and independent institutions. Assistance will be administered through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and local and international nongovernmental organizations.

However, the U.S., along with the European Union, is suspending assistance to the Palestinian government because the new Hamas-led government has failed to accept the principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel's right to exist, and respect for previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. These principles were developed by representatives of the Quartet -- the U.S. the U-N, the European Union, and Russia -- as a means to bring about a peaceful resolution between Israel and its Palestinian neighbor.

C. David Welch, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and North African Affairs, says these principles are included in both U-N resolutions and Arab League initiatives:

"Regrettably so far, the new Hamas government has not answered on any of those principles."

Mr. Welch says that the U.S. remains "committed to the vision that President [George W.] Bush has laid out for a two-state solution":

"But. . . .absent a commitment by the Hamas government to these preconditions, we cannot see them as a partner for peace. This would mean, therefore, that we'll have to direct a substantial portion of our assistance program to principally humanitarian assistance."

These include, says Assistant Secretary of State Welch, assistance to support "democracy in civil society and independent institutions":

"We think this latter element is critical since, while Hamas did gain a majority. . .to form a new government. It won by forty-four percent of the vote. In other words, fifty-five or fifty-six percent of Palestinians did not vote for Hamas."

"The new Palestinian government," says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, must take responsibility for the consequences of its policies."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.