A glimmer of light for Palestinians suffering serious economic woes, while Western nations argue about aid obligations versus politics.
The Palestinians will receive aid totaling more than $120m of European Union funds for health services and basic needs. The Quartet of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia have agreed to channel emergency relief funds through the World Bank, bypassing the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.
As long as Hamas refuses to recognise Israel and previous peace accords established with the Jewish state, the Quartet has made it clear it will not distribute aid money directly to the government. All previously-scheduled aid was frozen, following Hamas's election earlier this year.
Concerns over a potential humanitarian crisis prompted the latest agreement. In a statement Sunday the Quartet nations endorsed the EU proposal to support local health services, provide fuel supplies and basic needs for poor Palestinians. The statement cautioned that the plan is "limited in scope and duration" and would be reconsidered in three months. The Quartet urged Israel and other international donors to participate in the scheme.
The European Union is considering an additional 100m euros in aid and expects to have the essential funding process operational early in July. For many years, the EU has provided the bulk of aid to the Palestinians, annually donating about 500m euros.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the latest aid is "a step forward." But he warned "the measure cancels the role of the government and cancels the role of the Palestinian Authority." Meanwhile, the Hamas government has referred to the plan as an "affront to democracy," widening the gap "between the people and their government." But what kind of government is Hamas, if it fails to serve its constituency? Hamas has made no move to attempt a compromise solution or to soften its hardline position vis-a-vis Israel and existing peace agreements.
Why is it that while people suffer, help available often boils down to a question of semantics - of what words are acceptable for both sides to move forward? Because while the Quartet appears willing to find "work-arounds" to meet diplomatic standards of acceptability, Hamas is standing firm - stubbornly refusing to bend their harsh rhetoric or budge one iota from their hardline mantra - even as the people they were elected to serve are forced to sell off personal belongings to buy food. Where is the humanity here? What's more important - people going hungry, coping without adequate medical care and supplies - or a fledgling government's pride?