EU starts paying social allowances to Palestinians

Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Monday September 25, 2006

Brussels- The European Commission on Monday said it has started dispensing social allowances to 40,000 Palestinian families with each receiving a one-off payment of 270 euros (344 dollars). Needy families have been identified from those normally supported through the welfare scheme of the Palestinian Authority, the commission said.

The cash payments are part of an international temporary aid programme that allows funds to reach needy Palestinians while bypassing the Palestinian ruling Hamas group.

Payments will be handed out by three local banks, a commission spokeswoman said.

She added that the list of families entitled for European Union aid had been drawn up by the former Fatah-led government which was in power until January.

Hamas is currently on the bloc's terrorist list which means that all EU contacts with the movement are banned. The United States also lists the group as a terrorist organization

The EU and the US cut off aid to the Hamas-led government earlier this year because it refuses to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept past peace accords.

The so-called Middle East Quartet - the EU, the US, the United Nations and Russia - last week agreed to extend by three months their temporary aid programme which was set up in June.

Allowances to Palestinian health workers, payments for utilities and pensioners have already been paid, the commission said.

The EU executive has allocated 105 million euros to the aid mechanism bringing the total it has made available so far this year to the Palestinians to 330 million euros.

The bloc is the largest supplier of financial aid to the Palestinians, having given about 500 million euros annually until Hamas won parliamentary elections in January this year.

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur