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Hamas announces ‘deal’ with US on aid to Gaza

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, August 13, 2011 9:36 EDT
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The Palestinian movement Hamas and the US Agency for International Development have reached a compromise to maintain the flow of aid, a senior Hamas official said Saturday.

“We’ve reached a compromise with USAID through the United Nations” to allow the continuation of aid, which was suspended by Washington on Friday, the official of the Islamist movement controlling the Palestinian enclave told AFP.

Hamas, as a result of the agreement, renounces for a “three-month period” its demand to verify the accounts of NGOs financed by the US Agency for International Development in the Palestinian territories, he said.

“We are keen on the continuation of the international institutions’ work and their services to our people,” he said.

The Hamas official, who participated in the mediated talks, said the sides were working towards an agreement on mechanisms that ensure “transparency and internal accountability of these international organisations.”

There will be “no control over their work,” he added.

A US official on Friday said USAID was halting humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip over alleged meddling by Hamas, which Washington and Israel designate as a terrorist organisation.

“We deeply regret that USAID-funded partner organisations operating in Gaza are forced by Hamas?s actions to suspend their assistance work,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

“USAID assistance programmes were put on hold effective August 12,” he added.

“Hamas, through a series of measures it has imposed over the past months, has created an environment which jeopardises the ability of non-governmental organisations to provide assistance to Gaza?s most vulnerable residents,” the official said.

He said all US partner organisations would suspend their activities funded by the United States until these are able “to operate without interference or harassment from Hamas.”

Another official in Washington said he understood that Hamas has been demanding access to physically search files and records of NGOs, which would be unprecedented.

Referring to NGO the International Medical Corps (IMC), the first official said that when “the organisation objected to the unwarranted audits, Hamas responded by closing down the organisation?s office in Gaza.

“These types of physical searches of NGO offices and records are unprecedented and represent a significant increase in the harassment of humanitarian relief and development organizations operating in Gaza.”

Hamas insisted on Friday that it should be able to verify the accounts of NGOs financed by USAID in the Palestinian territories.

The movement’s spokesman Taher al-Nunu complained that “USAID refuses to recognise the government in Gaza,” adding that anyone who “wishes to work in Palestinian territory must obey its laws.”

Reacting to the situation, Palestinian economy minister Hassan Abu Libdeh called on Hamas to “abstain from any action that threatens relations with the NGOs.”

Saying the NGOs were dedicated to “rebuilding Gaza,” Abu Libdeh told AFP that “any halt to their activities will have grave consequences.”

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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