GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar of Hamas, who returned this week from a seven-nation tour with $20 million (¤16 million) in cash stuffed in his suitcase, pledged Saturday to keep funneling money through the Egypt-Gaza border, rebuffing European demands to stop doing so.
“We are going to continue to bring money in through Rafah crossing. This is a legal process. We are not going to allow anyone to prevent us,” Zahar told reporters in Gaza, referring to the border crossing with Egypt opened after Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip last year.
The U.S. brokered a deal giving Palestinians control over Rafah, under the observation of European Union monitors.
The Palestinians’ Hamas-led government, nearly bankrupted by international sanctions, has resorted recently to bringing in cash in suitcases to help keep itself afloat, with two Cabinet ministers doing so this week alone. The practice prompted a letter from the European monitoring mission warning that the entry of money through Rafah violated the border agreement.
In the press conference, Zahar also praised a European Union plan endorsed Friday to channel humanitarian aid to the impoverished Palestinian areas, while condemning its funding freeze against the Hamas government.
Zahar also said that a recent Iranian pledge of $50 million (¤40 million), 300 cars and two aircraft will be delivered soon to the Palestinian government.