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Sinn Féin MEP cautions against EU funding cuts to Palestine after Hamas victory

30 January, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today called upon European Foreign Ministers to 'demonstrate their commitment to peace in the Middle East.'

Ms de Brún made her comments as EU Foreign Ministers met in Brussels today to discuss the aftermath of the Palestinian elections amid calls to scrap funding to the Palestinian Authority. The European Commission and individual member states are the biggest financial contributors to the Authority with over 500 million euro every year since 2003.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"Having just returned from Palestine as an international election observer, I was able to see for myself how people live in Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlahem and East Jerusalem. The Palestinian people are living under continued occupation and Israeli imposed restrictions and it was a credit to them that they were able to organize and run an election in the manner which they did.

"Due to the Israeli occupation, Palestine is unable to fully function socially, politically or financially. Cutting support to the Authority will affect the ordinary Palestinian people most.

"The international community has a hugely important political and financial role to play in the aftermath of the elections. It is clear that the Palestinian people have spoken clearly and definitively on who they want to represent them and it is essential that the international community accepts this.

"Therefore calls to withdraw funding to the Authority are unhelpful and will not progress the search for peace in the region. The EU and indeed the wider international community must assist both the Palestinian and the Israeli people in getting the peace process back on track.

"The international community is an integral part of the process of conflict resolution in the region and must continue to demonstrate their commitment to peace in the Middle East." ENDS

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