Palestinian: U.S. violates own principles

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh criticized the United States on Sunday for restricting diplomatic ties with the Hamas government, saying his people were being punished for electing the militant Islamic group.

Seeking to end chaos in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siyam pledged the new government would pacify the area but appealed for patience.

“Let them bear with us for a year,” he said. Four people were killed and 36 wounded in unrest over the weekend.

The United States said Friday that American diplomats have been forbidden to make contact with officials in any Palestinian government agency controlled by Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction. The Islamic group’s new Cabinet controls every ministry.

State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said diplomats would maintain contact with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and lawmakers from his Fatah movement, which favors peace talks.

Haniyeh accused the United States of violating its own principles of democracy by ostracizing his Hamas-led government.

“This government was elected in a free and honest election, and according to the democratic principles the American administration is calling for,” Haniyeh told supporters who had come to his office to wish his new government well.

“We believe this is a punishment of the Palestinian people because of its democratic choice, and at the same time, it increases the people’s suffering,” he said.

The Palestinian Authority has received about $1 billion a year in foreign aid, much of which is now in jeopardy. The government is already having trouble making its payroll for March.

The United States and European Union have said they will halt millions of dollars in direct aid to the Palestinian Authority unless Hamas renounces violence, recognizes Israel and commits to the peace process.

Hamas’ first few days in power have been a rocky combination of international pressure and deadly domestic violence.

Over the weekend, four people were killed and 36 wounded in unrest, starting with the killing of a top militant with ties to Hamas.

Siyam, the interior minister, said the Hamas government would end the chaos.

“We don’t have a magic wand,” Siyam cautioned. “I will meet with factions as well as leaders of military wings.”

He promised to arrest and try people who violate the law. He said once the security forces make their presence felt and enforce the law, “people will be comfortable” with the police and will not depend on their clans for protection and revenge.

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