PA Finance Minister to visit Brussels, discuss resumption of EU aid
EU's Solana: Quartet of Middle East negotiators wants to meet with Israel for first time before summer.
Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayad will visit Brussels on April 11 to discuss ways of resuming frozen European Union aid to the Palestinian Authority, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said on Thursday.
The announcement was the latest European step towards engagement with non-Hamas members of the new Palestinian national unity government formed this month.
But Ferrero-Waldner stressed it did not mean direct aid to the Palestinian government would restart overnight after the EU boycotted the previous Hamas-led administration over its refusal to recognise Israel or renounce violence.
Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Thursday that the Quartet of Middle East negotiators hopes to meet with Israel before the summer for the first time.
Solana said the Quartet - the European Union, the United States, Russia and the United Nations - wants to engage in talks with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the next few weeks.
"What we would really hope to do before the summer is to get the Quartet together with these countries and with the parties to the conflict - a meeting with Israel and a meeting with Palestine. That would be the first time Israel has met with the Quartet," Solana told the European Parliament.
The Quartet has been seeking a way to re-establish contacts with the new Palestinian national unity government, which still includes Hamas militants unwilling to commit themselves to demands that they renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to exist, and adhere to previous international agreements.
The EU has said it would keep an aid boycott against the new Palestinian government in place for the time being, but would forge links with moderate members of the unity government.
"It would be a mistake for us to cut off all contacts with the people who are part of this new government and have worked with us for many years," Solana said.