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Australia commits $6 million to Palestinians

Australia committed $6 million in aid to the Palestinians.Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said that although Australia would continue to isolate Hamas, $3.4 million would go to support the new emergency Palestinian Authority government and another $2.6 million would go to humanitarian aid in Gaza. Downer was on a two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian-populated territories this week.Following his meeting Wednesday with new P.A. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Downer said there is a “real chance” to renew the peace process.”There is an opportunity now, and both sides need to seize that opportunity,” he said. “As long as the Palestinians are led by people like President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad and others, moderates, then it seems to me there is hope.”Downer was among the first foreign dignitaries to meet Fayyad, who was installed last week by P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas after Hamas’ violent takeover of Gaza.Downer also met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Labor leader Ehud Barak and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu. The Australian minister also received an honorary doctorate from Bar-Ilan University, opened the Australian Film Festival and visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.