Ma'an News Agency
October 3, 2011 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told President Mahmoud Abbas that the EU would not cut aid to the Palestinian Authority after Palestine's bid for UN membership, media reports said on Monday.

The Ramallah-based government is facing a financial shortfall after the US Congress declined to transfer $200 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority.

The EU will not block aid payments, Ramallah-based daily al-Quds reported, quoting European sources.

On Saturday, the EU announced it will transfer €9.9 million to the Palestinian Authority to fund social protection programs.

The European Commission is the largest donor to the Palestinians, according to funding tracker Global Humanitarian Assistance.

Foreign Minister in Ramallah Riyad al-Malki told Ma'an on Sunday that the Palestinian Authority has not received "official confirmation" of the aid block from the US.

If the threats do materialize, Malki said, the PA will seek support from the organization of Islamic cooperation.

Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi on Sunday appealed to member states to bolster financial help to the Palestinian territories.

"It is necessary for the member countries of the League to increase their financial aid to the Palestinian people so they can face this threat," al-Arabi said after talks in Cairo with PLO official Saeb Erekat.

Members of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have frozen the funding to the Palestinians "until the Palestinian statehood issue is sorted out," one of the aides told AFP on Saturday.

The economic package is separate from security aid, which the US lawmakers say would be counterproductive to block. They fear that withholding those funds would weaken the ability of Palestinian security forces to quell anti-Israel violence.

A coalition of Israel-backing Democrats and conservative Republican lawmakers are angered by the Palestinian bid for United Nations membership. Both the United States and Israel insist that only direct negotiations can produce an accord leading to Palestinian statehood.

"It is the right of the Palestinians to have their state, a full member of the United Nations, like other peoples of the world," Arabi said.

Erekat warned that Palestinians would not be "blackmailed and bargained with" by the US over the bid for UN membership.


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