CAIRO: Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said on Friday several European states have pledged to send money to the new Palestinian government, adding that key peace mediators could also challenge the US decision to shun the Palestinians.
Meshaal said the United States was not able any more to convince other members of the Quartet of the Middle East mediators to maintain financial sanctions imposed on the Palestinian government after Hamas s surprise victory in a 2006 general election.
There are European countries that have already decided on their annual financial support to the Palestinian government and have contacted Palestinian officials, Meshaal told a news conference in Cairo.
The international community has started to take steps to break the embargo, he said.
But he declined to name the countries that have made the pledges and did not say whether they would await for official decision from the quartet – the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia – to lift the sanctions.
The Islamist Hamas and the Fatah group of President Mahmoud Abbas reached an agreement this month in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to form a unity government, hoping such a deal would end the US-led boycott and stop Palestinian infighting.
The quartet on Wednesday repeated a demand that the new government renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept interim peace deals but put off a decision on how to deal with the government once it is formed.
Although the unity government fell short of directly meeting those demands, Western diplomats have said the agreement between Hamas and Fatah has widened divisions within the quartet.
The United States, Israel s chief ally, wants to continue to shun the unity government. Russia and some other European governments favor a softer line.
Asked whether the European promises to end the sanctions were serious, Meshaal said: Before the Mecca agreement, some European parties were promising support if we reached an agreement.
After the Mecca agreement, some promises are becoming practical steps. I am talking about specific … obligations, and not just about mere promises, he said.
The financial sanctions have pushed the Palestinian Authority to the brink of financial collapse and raised poverty rates in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank.
A report by the U.N. World Food Program, released on Thursday, estimated that nearly half of Palestinians were unable to produce or access the food they needed.