Hamas tells Arabs to keep aid pledge

The Palestinian foreign minister has called on Arabs to fulfil their promises of financial assistance to the Palestinian government.

    Al-Zahar is in Egypt as part of a regional tour to obtain aid

    For their part, Arab officials, at a meeting between Mahmoud al-Zahar and the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on Saturday, urged the Hamas-led Palestinian government to consider an Arab plan to end the conflict with Israel that calls for exchanging land for peace.

    Al-Zahar said he would discuss the initiative with the others in the government but pointed out that Israel had not yet accepted the deal.

    "I will convey all that I heard to every decision-maker and make a clear picture about the initiative. But the problem is: Does the other party accept it?" al-Zahar said after a meeting with Amr Moussa, the Arab League secretary-general, and other Arab envoys.

    At a summit in Sudan last month, the Arab leaders said a 2002 peace-for-land initiative is the Arab world's only option for ending the conflict with Israeli, suggesting that a Hamas government should accept the plan.

    Israel has never committed itself to the initiative.

    Aboul Gheit absent

    Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Egyptian foreign minister, was not available to see al-Zahar, giving rise to speculation that the Egyptian government was snubbing him.

    But al-Zahar, Moussa and Egyptian officials all said that Aboul Gheit was out of Cairo for personal reasons and that it would not be proper for al-Zahar to see anyone else. Al Jazeera said Aboul Gheit apologised for his inability to make time to meet al-Zahar.

    Al-Zahar (L) met Moussa, head of
    the Arab League, in Cairo

    Hesham Youssef, Moussa's chief of staff, said Moussa and Arab diplomats' emphasised that the Arab peace initiative is the essence of the Arab position.

    "No one can stay out of this position."

    Al-Zahar arrived in Cairo on the first leg of a regional tour that will take him later to Saudi Arabia and several Gulf nations.

    Al-Zahar met Moussa before addressing representatives of the 22-member organisation.

    Al-Zahar informed them about "developments in the region and the  financial crisis faced by the Palestinian government", the source said.

    "He asked them to quickly fulfil the financial promises they  made at the Khartoum summit."

    Khartoum pledge

    During the annual meeting of Arab leaders last month in  Khartoum, Arab governments promised financial aid to the  cash-strapped Palestinian Authority.

    For his part, Omar Abdul Razak, the Palestinian finance minister, also urged Arab countries to honour their pledges and send urgent financial assistance to the besieged Palestinian people.

    Speaking to Al Jazeera on Saturday, the minister urged his countrymen not to resort to force to get their salaries, particularly since they know that the government had inherited empty coffers and was doing its best to meet its responsibilities.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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