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Canada Cuts Relations with Palestinian Authority
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Canada has ended all relations including aid with the new Palestinian government, Ottawa announced Wednesday shortly after the Hamas government formally took power.

The decision made Canada the first country besides Israel to cut off aid to the new government of Palestine.

"The contingency is that until such time as we see a change in position from the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority, there will be no direct contact, and there will certainly be no aid flowing through that government," Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay told reporters on Wednesday.
In an earlier statement, MacKay said the stated platform of the Hamas government "has not addressed the concerns raised by Canada and others concerning non-violence, the recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the roadmap for peace".

"A clear commitment by the Hamas government to the principles that we and the international community have outlined remains an essential precondition for Canada to resume any assistance to the Palestinian Authority," he said.

Hamas opposes peace talks and has rejected international calls to renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept previous agreements designed to achieve peace in the Middle East, he said.

In the same statement, International Co-operation Minister Josee Verner stressed the distinction between aid to the Palestinian Authority and to Palestinians, promising Canada will continue to support the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in the 24-member Hamas cabinet Wednesday, ending a two-month transition period since Hamas' election victory.

Youssef Rizka, the newly-installed Palestinian information minister, said the Canadian position shows obvious bias.

He said the Canadian government should be asking Israel to admit it is occupying Palestinian land, according to reports.

Israel suspended its monthly tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority after Hamas' election victory last month.

(Xinhua News Agency March 30, 2006)

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