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France declines to cut off Palestine relief aid

By Staff
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Paris, Apr 19: France today said it opposed cutting off humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Territories but again urged the Hamas-led Palestinian government to reject violence, recognise Israel and embrace peace.

Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told French radio that while the European Union had cut funding to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority it had no plans to end relief aid.

''It is absolutely out of the question ... to cut off humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Territories,'' he told RMC radio. ''That would be a major political mistake.'' ''If we don't help the Palestinian Territories, others like Iran will do so. And, on the other hand, we risk pushing the Palestinian people towards radicalism and that's not what we want and that's why we should continue to help them.'' President Jacques Chirac, who begins a two-day visit to Egypt today, said Hamas must see violence had no future and urged Israel to resist unilateral action and assassinations and to halt colonisation of Palestinian territories.

''We call on Hamas to understand that violence leads to a dead end and (urge it) to continue its transition towards political action,'' he told Egypt's al-Ahram newspaper.

''It agreed to take part in elections, now it must go through with this logic,'' he said. ''There is no alternative.'' Chirac will press his host, President Hosni Mubarak, today to try to convince Hamas to commit to the West Asia peace process.

The United States and European Union have cut direct aid to the Hamas-led government for failing to meet their demands that Hamas recognise Israel, abandon violence and respect existing Palestinian peace agreements with Israel.

Hamas, the militant Islamic group that won Palestinian elections in January, has refused to amend its charter calling for destruction of Israel.

It also angered Israel and the West by describing as ''self defence'' Monday's suicide bombing by another group that killed nine people in Tel Aviv.

REUTERS

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