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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia to Attend EU Forum on Assistance for Palestinians

STRASBOURG, France -- The European Union will host a meeting with the United States, United Nations, Russia and the World Bank later this month to seek ways to channel financial aid to the Palestinians and bypass the Hamas government, officials said Wednesday.

The European Commission will also meet representatives of EU member states in Brussels next week to hammer out the technical details of the planned international funding mechanism, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said.

She said the money was likely to be administered by a temporary body that would channel it to Palestinians, and that the EU would use Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a liaison with the Palestinians, so that it could avoid dealing directly with the Hamas government. It was not yet clear where the body would be based.

The meeting of the so-called Quartet of donors and the World Bank will be at a technical level, looking how such a funding mechanism could work in practice. High-level officials would have to address the political implications of the issue later.

"We are working at full speed on this mechanism. The first thing is to establish its scope, objective and management. This is quite complex. It's not just opening a new bank account," Ferrero-Waldner told journalists, adding that she hoped the new system could be in place by the end of June.

The EU, the U.S. and other donors froze hundreds of millions of dollars in direct aid to the Palestinian government after the Islamic militant group Hamas won elections in January. Washington and the EU consider Hamas a terrorist organization and have demanded the group renounce violence and recognize Israel.