‘WEST PLAYING POLITICS WITH AID’ says Hamas as Bush threatens Iran war

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Hamas yesterday accused the West of playing politics with Palestinian aid after the US and EU resumed assistance to the Abbas appointed emergency government in the West Bank while Gaza remains under Israeli blockade.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: ‘By announcing their political and financial support for the Palestinian Authority, the West is backing an illegitimate government.’

EU and US support for the government of prime minister Salam Fayyad was ‘an attempt to manipulate the Palestinian people and distance it from Hamas,’ he charged, adding that the strategy would not work.

Former Palestinian Authority (PA) foreign affairs minister and Hamas senior political leader MP Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar stressed that Hamas is not wagering on and will never wager on the Israeli and US stands, and accused both states of exploiting events in the Palestinian arena to support PA chief Mahmoud Abbas against the mainstream Palestinian people.

Zahhar said: ‘The USA is posing for new elections and I think it won’t be able to achieve any political progress in the coming period; and the Israeli occupation government that is haunted by many scandals, and could collapse anytime.’

He shrugged off Olmert’s decision to release money to Abbas, saying at the end those sums belong to the Palestinian people and will finally reach them because Abbas cannot deny PA employees in Gaza those monies.

Zahhar finally confirmed that Hamas and Fatah have no option but to sit together and talk for the best interests of the Palestinian people ‘away from the treason trend’ that brought many afflictions to the Palestinian people.

The Israeli army confirmed yesterday that its tanks were moving to the Palestinian side of the Erez crossing into northern Gaza.

Israeli cabinet minister Gideon Ezra called on the Olmert government to free its most renowned Fatah prisoner, Marwan Barghouthi, to boost the authority of Abbas.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was in Washington for talks with US President George W Bush.

At a joint press conference Bush said the military option was on the table against Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions.

He and Olmert offered their public support for Abbas.

Calling for a two-state solution, Bush said it was in Israel’s interest to have a Palestinian state.

Olmert said he looked forward to setting up weekly meetings with Abbas and said it was urgent that negotiations began to establish a Palestinian state.

Olmert said that like Bush ‘I want to cooperate with the moderates’.

Meanwhile, Hamas appealed for an end to revenge attacks against its supporters in the West Bank.

Senior political leader Al-Zahhar affirmed that Fatah leaders in Gaza Strip were safe in their homes and properties, and that they were practising their political freedom without any hindrances.

But he warned that if atrocities against Hamas cadres ‘at the hands of the hooligans’ continued, cadres of Hamas in the West Bank will be forced to defend themselves.