Sweden increases Palestinian aid

Sweden's state-run aid group on Monday pledged more than five million euros in additional aid to the Palestinian territories as Israel and the United States halted much of their funding following Hamas's election victory.

“The humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has worsened,” the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) said in a statement, adding that it would provide 50 million kronor (6.4 million dollars) to the United Nations’ aid programs there.

In 2005, SIDA donated nearly 100 million kronor to the Palestinian territories, a spokesman for the group told AFP.

The additional aid was necessary since Israel was not living up to its responsibility as an occupying power, Peter Lundberg of SIDA’s humanitarian unit said in a statement.

“According to the fourth Geneva convention, the occupying power has a particular responsibility to support and ensure the human dignity of the occupied,” he said.

“Since Israel is not living up to its responsibility under international law, large parts of the Palestinian population are now completely dependent on international humanitarian aid,” Lundberg added.

The situation is likely to deteriorate further after the Israeli cabinet on Sunday authorized a series of restrictive measures against the Palestinian Authority, including a halt in the monthly transfer of custom duties in response to Hamas’s rise to power following last month’s elections.

The United States, which had planned to provide some 234 million dollars in assistance to the Palestinians before the radical Islamist party’s legislative victory, has also said it will not give money to a government formed by the movement.

Since its victory, Hamas has been under international pressure to recognise Israel’s right to exist, to end the armed struggle and to abide by previous agreements with Israel.

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