The European Union today denied reports that it had threatened to reduce aid provided to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if it doesn't hold elections.
"We were surprised by what was reported in some media outlets … there was no comment or statement from the European Union on this subject," said Shadi Othman, the European Union spokesman in Palestine, in a brief written statement sent to the Anadolu Agency.
Israel's official broadcaster Kan said late yesterday that European officials had sent a message to PA President Mahmoud Abbas stating that if the parliamentary elections scheduled for May were cancelled, Europe's support for the authority, estimated at €600 million ($728 million), would be cut or reduced.
According to the channel, officials and diplomats said: "The situation in which the European Union and European countries continue to pump millions into the Palestinian Authority without a democratic and reform process, cannot continue."
Hussein Al-Sheikh, head of the Civil Affairs Authority and a member of the Central Committee of Fatah, yesterday denied the report. Taking to Twitter he wrote: "All the European and other threats that are rumoured are unfounded, and intentional disturbances."
He added, "The Palestinian elections are a Palestinian decision par excellence, and stem from Palestinian national interests, to strengthen the democratic approach with the participation of all Palestinians to enshrine the legitimacy of the fund."
Elections are scheduled to take place in 3 phases: legislative on 22 May, presidential on 31 July and National Assembly on 31 August 31 this year.
Since 2008, the aid provided by European Union countries to the Palestinian Authority amounted to about €2.8 billion ($3.4 billion).