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Int'l Efforts Underway to Rescue PNA Budget from Collapse
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Palestinian National Economy Minister Mazen Sonoqrot said on Wednesday that international efforts were being exerted to rescue the Palestinian National Authority (PNA)'s budget from a possible collapse.

Sonoqrot told Palestinian radio Voice of Palestine that he met on Tuesday with officials of the World Bank and was informed that the world body decided to transfer some US$42 million to the PNA.

He said these funds would be used to meet basic needs of the Palestinian people.

A World Bank statement said on Tuesday this short-term aid was dedicated to meet PNA's financial and humanitarian needs.

Norway also announced it would transfer US$10 million to the PNA to bankroll its employees' salaries, as well as teachers' salaries for February and March.

Norway added that the European Union, Russia and Saudi Arabia would also provide aid for the PNA.

After Hamas won the Jan. 25 Palestinian parliamentary elections and was mandated to form the next government, concerns were raised as whether to continue international aids to a Hamas-led Palestinian cabinet.

In another development, Salah el-Bardaweel, Hamas spokesman in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Wednesday told Xinhua that Hamas won't recognize Israel or the agreements signed between the two sides, which contradicted statements by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said earlier that Hamas was willing to recognize the road map peace plan.

Hamas can't recognize a state that occupies our lands and keeps turning it into cantons and plans to confiscate it," el-Bardaweel said.

Hamas won't be obliged or committed to any of the signed agreements with Israel, he added.

"We managed to convince the Russians on two major issues. The first is that it is our right to resist the military occupation of our lands, and the second is that the Russians as well as the world have to respect our people's democratic choice," the spokesman said.

The visit of the Hamas delegation to Russia and other Arab countries earlier this week was aimed at breaking the siege imposed on the movement by Israel and the United States.

Hamas was involved in some suicide attacks against Israel during the second Palestinian uprising since September 2000, but largely abided by a truce with Israel in 2005.

The United States, the European Union and Israel list Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, as a terrorist organization.

(Xinhua News Agency March 9, 2006)

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