OSLO (AP) â€” Norway is set to make the first transfer of direct aid to the Palestinians’ new government, the foreign minister said Monday â€” more than two months after the Nordic country broke with most Western nations by recognising the Hamas-led coalition.
Palestinian “Finance Minister Fayyad has now structured a financial account by which we can channel our support”, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said.
Norway soon will transfer $10 million to that account, Stoere said.
“I urge others to follow,” he said.
The creation last year of a Palestinian government led by terror-branded Hamas, which is committed to Israel’s destruction, caused the United States, European Union and others including Norway to withhold direct aid to the Palestinian Authority.
That suspension of direct aid led to an economic crisis in the Palestinian Authority, disrupting health care and other government-funded programmes and halting infrastructure projects.
A new Palestinian government â€” including moderate Fateh Party members and independents along with Hamas â€” took office March 17, and Norway became the first Western country to recognise it.
The EU, US and others, however, have refused to recognise the new Palestinian administration until Hamas agrees to renounce violence, recognises Israel’s right to exist and accepts previous agreements between the Palestinians and Israel.
Norway is not an EU member, but often has followed the bloc’s lead in foreign policy matters.
Stoere noted Monday that was not always the case, however, particularly in the Middle East. “We agree on the strategy, but we may not apply the same tactics at every crossroads,” he told the Annual Europe Conference in Oslo.
“We closely follow the 27 members of the EU, but we haveÂ toÂ decide for ourselves,Â andÂ itÂ mayÂ happen thatÂ weÂ makeÂ decisions that are distinctive.”
“We need to demonstrate that we are ready to engage, politically and financially”, with the Palestinian administration, Stoere said, adding that Norway was talking to all members of the Palestinian coalition. The US and the EU have met some non-Hamas members of the coalition. Norway’s meetings with Palestinian officials also offer the Nordic country a means for protesting violence and rocket attacks on Israel launched from the Gaza Strip, Stoere said.
“It has to stop, and we keep on stressing this to the Palestinian leaders,” he said, but added that for this to happen “we need to engage and work with the their national unity government”.
Donor countries must encourage moderate forces in Palestinian areas, showing people there that working together politically, rather than violently, will improve their situation, he said.
“If this Palestinian unity government fails, then politics will fail. And the alternative to politics is violence,” he said.Â