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EU Commissioner says Israel should release payments

Written by: Staff

VIENNA, March 6 (Reuters) Israel should release customs duties of 60 million euros per month to the Palestinian Authority's interim government, the European Union's head of external relations said in an interview today.

''It would be important that the Israelis are paying out what is actually Palestinian money -- the customs duties,'' the European Commission's Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in an interview with Austria's daily newspaper Der Standard.

Israel has decided to stop handing over the customs revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority following the victory in parliamentary elections of Islamist group Hamas, which is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state.

Ferrero-Waldner reiterated that the European Union would not continue payments to the Palestinian Authority once Hamas takes it over, unless Hamas committed to recognise Israel, renounce violence, and honor past agreements between Israel and the Authority.

She added that the EU may consider taking Hamas off its list of ''terrorist organisations'' if it fulfilled those demands.

''We will certainly have to reflect on that internally,'' she said in the interview. ''But at the same time we have to say: our three principles have to be fulfilled.'' REUTERS DKS PM1434

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