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Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Palestinian FM enters Gaza Strip carrying case with $20M in cash

Palestinian FM enters Gaza Strip carrying case with $20M in cash
By Haaretz Service 28 November 2006
www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/793939.html

Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar on Tuesday entered the Gaza
Strip carrying a suitcase containing $20 million in cash.

Al-Zahar raised the funds, which he brought in through the border with
Egypt, over the past two weeks during a series of visits to several Arab
countries.

Various Palestinian officials, using their VIP status, have brought millions
in Arab-donated dollars into Gaza in recent months, despite international
sanctions against the group. In June, al-Zahar brought 20 million euros
across the border, stuffed in 12 suitcases.

Palestinian law permits cash to be carried over the border as long as it is
declared.

The international community has said it will not lift the sanctions unless
Hamas recognizes Israel, accepts past peace deals and renounces violence,
conditions Hamas has rejected.

The sanctions have crippled the government, making it largely unable to pay
salaries to its 165,000 employees. The efforts by Hamas to bring cash into
Gaza have enabled the government to make small payments periodically, but
have done little to ease widespread hardship.

Negotiations between the feuding Fatah and Hamas factions to create a
cabinet of technocrats to free the government of the international
restrictions placed on it are ongoing.

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