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Israel calls for EU sanctions over Palestinian deal

Israel's government says that EU is responsible for pushing Hamas to recognise Israel and renounce violence

AFP , Wednesday 4 May 2011
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Israel called on the European Union on Wednesday to cut its funding to the Palestinian Authority if Hamas does not recognise Israel and renounce violence in the wake of a Palestinian unity deal.

"As the largest funders of the Palestinian Authority, you have a heavy responsibility to make it clear to the Palestinians that failure to comply with the Quartet's conditions will be met with sanctions," Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said, according to a statement from his office. Ayalon was speaking during a visit to Estonia, where he held talks with Foreign Minister Urmas Paet.

The international peace-making Quartet, made up of the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia, has said that for Hamas to be recognised as a ruling party it must renounce violence, recognise Israel and previous agreements signed between the Jewish state and the Palestinian Authority.

But senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath said the Quartet conditions were not practical. "All the Europeans and the Russians and others understand and agree with us 100 percent that all the rules of the Quartet are unworkable and don't make sense," Shaath told Israeli public radio.

"All that the Quartet needs to know is that Hamas will refrain from any violence and that Hamas will be interested in the peace process," he said.
The reconciliation deal signed by Hamas, Fatah and 11 other Palestinian factions on Tuesday provides for the formation of an interim government of independents to lay the groundwork for presidential and parliamentary elections within a year.

It has been welcomed by Palestinians in the divided territories, but Israel responded angrily to the deal, threatening to withhold the transfer of Palestinian tax revenues until it could be sure no money would go to Hamas.

Israel collects taxes for the Palestinians at border crossings and ports, and transfers the funds to Abbas's authority under an economic deal agreed alongside the Oslo autonomy accords.

The revenues amount to between 3.5 and 5.0 billion shekels ($1.04 billion to $1.48 billion) a year and form a significant part of the authority's budget.

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