Iran will give Palestinians $50 million in aid |

Iran will give Palestinians $50 million in aid

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran will give the financially strapped Palestinian Authority $50 million in aid, state-run television reported Sunday.Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced the aid package during a conference held in Tehran in support of the Palestinians.The promise of funds comes a few days after the United States and Europe announced they were cutting aid to the government led by the Islamic militant group Hamas.Though Shiite Iran has a policy of exporting Islamic revolution, so far it has not fully embraced Hamas, which represents a largely Sunni Muslim population.Mottaki said the decision was made based on Iran’s firm and long-standing policy of supporting the Palestinians, the broadcast said.”Cutting the West’s financial aid to Palestine would not affect the will of the Palestinian people,” he was quoted as saying.This was the first time that Iran has specified a figure in aid to the Palestinians. In the past, it has said that it would give the Palestinian Authority funds to compensate for the lack of funding from the West.Up to now, the Palestinian Authority has received about $1 billion in aid from the West.Iran’s pledge came as the Palestinian government began to seek funding from Islamic countries after Arab governments failed to make good on promises for funds.Arab League officials said last week that no money has been given to the Palestinian Authority since the Hamas government took office.The United States and the European Union have said that aid to the Palestinians would stop if Hamas refused to recognize Israel and renounce violence. The United States and EU consider Hamas a terrorist organization.Israel also has halted the monthly transfer of about $55 million in taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians.But Khaled Mashaal, the political leader of Hamas, said in Tehran on Saturday that his government would “never recognize Israel.”With its coffers empty, the Palestinian government already is two weeks late in paying March salaries for its 140,000 employees, and it is unclear when it will have the needed funds. The Palestinian Authority is the largest employer in the West Bank and Gaza, sustaining about one-third of the population.Vail, Colorado

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