TEL AVIV, (Reuters) – The European Union, the biggest donor to the Palestinian Authority, could curb aid if Hamas Islamic militants win a parliamentary election next month, Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana said on Sunday.
Hamas, which is sworn to destroying Israel and has spearheaded a suicide bombing campaign, is putting up candidates for parliament for the first time on Jan. 25. It is expected to do well against President Mahmoud Abbas”s fractured Fatah.
"It is very difficult that parties that do not condemn violence … without changing those positions can be partners for the future," Solana told reporters in Tel Aviv.
If Hamas won, he said, it would be "very difficult that help and the money that goes to … the Palestinian Authority will continue to flow".
Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat called Solana”s
comments "unacceptable", saying: "This is a direct intervention in our internal affairs … Mr Solana and others should respect the choice of the Palestinian people."
The EU allocated more than $340 million for the Palestinian Authority in 2005.
Hamas is riding high because of a split in Fatah and swept major cities in a council vote in the West Bank last week.
The United States and Israel are also worried at Hamas”s taking part in the parliamentary election — only the second such poll. Hamas did not run in the previous parliamentary vote in 1996 because it opposed the Palestinian Authority”s interim peace accords with Israel.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution on Friday urging the exclusion of Hamas. It said Hamas participation could undermine the ability of the United States to provide assistance.
Hamas has ruled out disarmament, a process that is meant to start under a U.S.-backed peace road map, and wants to replace Israel with an Islamic state.
The faction has won growing support from Palestinians who see it as less tainted by corruption than Fatah and also benefit from its charity network. Fatah is trying to patch up a split between veteran leaders and a young guard.
Hamas has largely followed a 10-month-old truce, but exiled politburo head Khaled Meshaal reiterated in an interview with pan-Arab daily al-Hayat on Sunday that the group did not plan to renew it at the end of the year.