Hamas: Financial siege is 'real holocaust'

May 3, 2006 at 11:28 AM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, May 3 (UPI) -- Hamas Politburo chief Khaled Meshaal deplored the financial blockade averting payment of salaries to Palestinian Authority employees as a "real holocaust."

The Damascus-based Meshaal told a gathering at Damascus University Wednesday that "the Arab League and the Palestinian government are trying to coordinate the transfer of the salaries of some 164,000 employees through private accounts without success."

He said he had told a foreign diplomat in the Syrian capital that what is happening to the Palestinians in the occupied territories "is the real holocaust and a crime taking place in broad daylight."

The United States and the European Union suspended financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority after the Islamic militant group won last January's general election and formed the new government, demanding that Hamas first recognize Israel, abandon violence and acknowledge past agreements signed between the PA and Israel.

Meshaal described the issue of holding the salaries as "an international crime aimed at besieging the Palestinian people," disclosing pressures placed on Arab banks to prevent them from transferring money.

"Any bank that transfers money to the Palestinian territories is exposed to sanctions," he said.

On conditions for recognizing Israel by Hamas, Meshaal said, "if Israel pulls out from territories captured in 1967, dismantles Jewish settlements, demolishes the barrier, acknowledges the right of return of Palestinian refugees and releases all prisoners, then Palestinians and Arabs should take a serious step that suits the Zionist move."

"Before that happens, any talk about possible scenarios is nonsense," he added.

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