The so-called Quartet of Middle East peace brokers – the US, Russia, the EU and the UN – have met foreign ministers from Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to try to ease the aid squeeze on the Palestinians.One proposal on the table at the UN in New York would allow the World Bank to channel funds to help pay the 165,000 Palestinian government employees who have not been paid since February. Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas says he hopes the meeting will help bring peace to the region. “I praise the EU and the UN who have started talking about ending the siege. We hope they move forward and end what is leading the region to disaster,” he said. Living conditions for ordinary Palestinians are worsening after the US and the EU froze aid to pressure Hamas to recognize Israel. One shopkeeper said: “If the situation does not get better, I will be forced to shut down just like many of my neighbours.” Meanwhile, there have been further clashes between rival Palestinian factions. At least 11 people were wounded in a second day of gun battles. Two Fatah supporters were hit by Hamas gunfire while attending the funeral of two Fatah members killed on Monday in southern Gaza.
Diplomatic talks on Palestinian aid freeze