World Bank to Give Palestinians $10 mln in Aid

The World Bank said Thursday it would provide $10 million in aid to needy Palestinian families as a new unity deal between Fatah and Hamas raised questions about continued Western assistance, Agence France Presse reported.

The international body said the funds would go to 5,500 families in the occupied West Bank and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, following a similar program in 2009 and 2010 that provided direct aid to some 25,000 families.

The announcement came as two key U.S. lawmakers warned Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas that he risked losing aid from Washington by shunning peace talks with Israel and dealing with the Islamist Hamas movement.

In a letter to Abbas, Republican Representative Kay Granger and Democratic Representative Nita Lowey also expressed "serious concerns" about his efforts to seek U.N. recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

"Our ability to support current and future aid would be severely threatened if you abandon direct negotiations with Israel and continue with your current efforts," they said in the message, which was obtained by AFP.

Granger chairs the House of Representatives subcommittee that controls U.S. foreign aid, and Lowey is the panel's top Democrat.

The letter came as the Palestinian leadership welcomed a surprise deal to end decades of hostility between Hamas and the secular Fatah party led by Abbas, in an accord which Israel denounced as crossing "a red line."

Israel and the West view Hamas as a terrorist group because of its support for armed struggle and its pledge to destroy the Jewish state.

Source: Agence France Presse

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