Sat, May 03, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Quartet encourages Arab states to give aid to Palestinians

AGENCIES , LONDON

Four world powers urged Arab states yesterday to make good on promises of aid for the Palestinian territories, after a meeting of the international Quartet on the Middle East, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said.

Addressing a press conference after the talks in London, Ban called on the donor states to follow through on commitments to the Palestinians made at a Paris conference in December.

“The Quartet encouraged the Arab states to fulfil both their political and financial roles in support of the Annapolis process,” he said, citing a statement agreed by the four powers.

The comments echoed remarks by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking on the eve of the talks.

Arab “states that have resources ought to be looking not for how little they can do, but how much they can do,” she told reporters accompanying her en route to London.

After the talks, the Quartet noted its “deep concern” over humanitarian conditions in Gaza, which is under a blockade imposed by Israel and which Israeli authorities say is to protect it from attack.

“The Quartet called for continued emergency and humanitarian assistance and the provision of essential services to Gaza without obstruction,” the UN secretary-general said.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair, who now heads the Quartet, said the situation in Gaza was “terrible.”

“The Quartet called for all donors to follow through on pledges made ... The Quartet encouraged the Arab states to fulfil both their political and financial roles in support of the Annapolis process,” a statement said.

The statement voiced “deep concern” over humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip, which has been under a stringent Israeli blockade since the Islamist Hamas movement took over power there in June last year. Israel says the blockade is aimed at stopping Hamas rocket attacks into Israel.

“The Quartet called for continued emergency and humanitarian assistance and the provision of essential services to Gaza without obstruction. The Quartet expressed its continuing concern over the closure of major Gaza crossing points given the impact on the Palestinian economy and daily life,” it said.

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