Norway said on Wednesday it would give $20 million in aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, as well as explore ways to offer direct assistance to Mahmoud Abbas. Banks in the region are unwilling to transfer funds in the face of warnings from the Bush administration that they could be breaking U.S. laws, according to Palestinian officials and Western diplomats.
"With the (Palestinian Authority) president's guidance we were able to start reviewing a number of projects for Norwegian funding worth approximately $20 million within the health and education sectors as well as for energy supplies," Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told reporters after talks in Oslo with Abbas.
Unlike the EU, which suspended aid earlier this month, Norway did not formally stop its assistance, though no aid was previously scheduled to be delivered in the period following the Hamas election victory. Norway insists that any future direct "budgetary aid" would be conditional on moves by the Hamas government to recognize Israel and renounce violence.