The European Union is to lead international efforts to restore the flow of foreign aid to the Palestinian people. The plan, decided on at a meeting in New York of the so-called Quartet of Middle East peace brokers – the EU, US, Russia and the UN – aims to bypass the Hamas-led government.“We expressed our willingness to endorse a temporary international mechanism limited in duration and scope and fully accountable that ensures direct delivery of any assistance to the Palestinian people,” said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. “The Quartet also welcomed the EU’s offer to develop and propose such a mechanism.” Living conditions for ordinary Palestinians have been worsening since the US and the EU froze aid to pressure the Hamas government to recognise Israel. Meanwhile, there was a show of cooperation by Hamas and its rival Fatah, as leaders held an emergency meeting overnight in an effort to stop factional fighting. It followed two days of clashes between rival gunmen which left three dead and more than a dozen wounded. After more than four hours of talks, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said the parties had agreed on moves to end the violence, including outlawing the carrying of arms.
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