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Hamas Urges Arab Countries to Support Palestinians
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Exiled head of Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) Khaled Meshaal Saturday urged the Arab countries to support the Palestinian people as financial and political siege imposed on the Palestinians continues.

Speaking at a joint press conference after his meeting with Arab League (AL) Secretary General Amr Moussa, Meshaal called on Arabs and Muslims as well as the international communities to support the Palestinians.

Meshaal, head of Hamas' political bureau, said the Palestinian people will not be patient under the pressure and the first step to lift the sanctions must be an Arab one.

"The Palestinians need more financial fund," he underlined.

Western countries have imposed sanctions on the Palestinian National Authority since Hamas, who rejected three international demands to recognize Israel, renounce violence and respect previous peace deals, single-handedly formed the government last March after defeating long-dominant Fatah movement in January 2006 elections.

More than 40 days have passed since the Palestinian unity government grouping Hamas and Fatah took office, the siege on the Palestinians are still not lifted in spite of the Palestinians' high expectation.

The Hamas leader called on Moussa to be directly involved in following up on financial pledges made by Arab states.

Moussa, for his part, said the AL and some Arab states have channeled funds to the Palestinian National Authority, saying that "We will not allow the Palestinian people to be starved."

In addition, Meshaal met with visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo late Friday.

Concerning a prisoner swap deal with Israel, Meshaal blamed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for delaying the exchange between hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and an Israeli soldier captured by three Palestinian militant groups headed by Hamas last June.

"The ball is in Olmert's court now, and he's the cause of the (prisoner exchange) deal's delay," he said.

This is the first meeting between Abbas and Meshaal, who arrived here late Friday and Thursday night respectively, since a Palestinian unity government took office on March 17 after a power-sharing agreement was reached in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 8.

The meeting came as Palestinian-Israeli tensions escalated after Israel launched military operations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and Hamas fired a barrage of rockets earlier in the week and declared a five-month cease-fire over.

(Xinhua News Agency April 29, 2007)

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