Japan to halt funding for Hamas-led government
(Yomiuri Shimbun, The (Tokyo) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) TOKYO _ The Japanese government plans to suspend any new financial support to the Palestinian Authority for the time being, in line with similar policies adopted by the United States and the European Union aimed at forcing the Hamas-led government to change its anti-Israel stance, The Yomiuri Shimbun learned Monday.
The government will suspend funding for new social infrastructure projects and will continue to accept Palestinian requests for humanitarian aid, including food. It will decide on resuming funding after consultations with the United States and the EU over whether the Palestinian government has changed its policy of military struggle with Israel.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso will discuss the issue with the U.S. government during his visit to the United States starting later this month. The government is determined to negotiate with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, rejecting direct contact with the Hamas-led government.
The government donated about $450 million, including grants-in-aid and technical assistance, to the Palestinian Authority from 1993 to 2004, with the aim of promoting the peace process by helping improve infrastructure. In 2004 the Japanese government spent about $75 million of grants-in-aid, including providing foodstuffs and about $2 million in technical assistance for the construction of Palestinian hospitals, schools and roads as well as repairing the presidential office destroyed by Israeli forces.
Hamas won a majority of seats in the January legislative council election and formed a government by itself last month. The United States decided to stop financial support to the Palestinian Authority as Hamas is designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Motaki have indicated their governments will provide financial support to the Hamas-led authority.
(c) 2006, The Yomiuri Shimbun.
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