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EU To Release Aid To Palestinians

27 February 2006 -- The European Union is set to release substantial aid to the Palestinian Authority to stave off a looming financial crisis.

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the package will total 120 million euros ($142 million).

The funds have been earmarked for payment of Palestinians' electricity bills, help for health and education, and also to pay Palestinian government salaries. It would be disbursed before the formation of a Palestinian government led by the militant group Hamas, which the EU lists as a terrorist group.

Ferrero-Waldner said the package was proof of the EU's support for Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas. She was speaking ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels today.

The EU froze disbursement of the aid to the Palestinians last month, insisting it will have dealings with Hamas only after the group renounces violence and recognizes Israel.

The EU is the largest donor to the Palestinian Authority.

(Reuters, AFP, dpa)