Video: U.S. to lift Palestinian embargo

updated 6/18/2007 7:49:20 PM ET 2007-06-18T23:49:20

The Bush administration, reinforcing its policy favoring a single Palestinian state, on Monday lifted its economic and political embargo against the Western-backed government of President Mahmoud Abbas.

The move follows the expulsion of the militant Hamas movement from the Palestinian Authority.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she had informed new Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the decision to resume direct aid in a phone call earlier Monday.

“I told him the United States would resume full assistance to the Palestinian government and normal government to government contacts,” she told reporters at the State Department. “I told the prime minister that we want to work with his government and support his efforts to enforce the rule of law and to ensure a better life for the Palestinian people.”

“We intend to lift our financial restrictions on the Palestinian government, which has accepted previous agreements with Israel and rejects the path of violence. This will enable the American people and American financial institutions to resume normal economic and commercial ties with the Palestinian government,” Rice said.

$40 million as U.N. aid
She said the administration would work with Congress to reprogram assistance to the Palestinian Authority and would also contribute an additional $40 million to the United Nations to help Palestinians, particularly in the Gaza Strip, which is now controlled by Hamas.

“Through its actions, Hamas sought to divide the Palestinian nation. We reject that,” Rice said. “It is the position of the United States that there one Palestinian people and there should be one Palestinian state.”

Earlier, Abbas told President Bush in a telephone call Monday that now is the time to resume Mideast peace talks, a spokesman said from Ramallah, in the West Bank.

The call focused on the ongoing situation following the takeover of the Gaza Strip last week by the Islamic militant Hamas group, aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh told the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

‘This is the time’
“President Abbas told Mr. Bush that this is the time to resume the political negotiations and to revive the hope of the Palestinian people,” Abu Rdeneh said.

He said Bush affirmed his support for Abbas’ policies and the measures he’s taken.

The White House said Bush called Abbas “to express support for him and the Palestinian moderates.”

Bush welcomed Abbas’ suggestions and ideas “and said clearly these are areas for a lot of discussion the rest of this week,” National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in Washington. Bush will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday.

“He (Bush) will raise these issues with Prime Minister Olmert so all parties involved can discuss them and can discuss the best way forward to what everyone wants, which is a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel,” Johndroe said.

Since the Islamic group seized control of Gaza, Abbas has dismantled the coalition government of his Fatah movement and Hamas, and installed a new government led by Fayyad, a political independent.

The European Union said Monday it would lift its punishing sanctions on the Palestinian Authority, imposed after Hamas swept Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006.

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