The European Union has cut off aid payments to the Hamas-led Palestinian government because of the Islamic group's refusal to renounce violence and recognize Israel.
A spokeswoman for the European Commission, Emma Udwin, on Friday said direct aid has been suspended "for the time being." Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Udwin said the stoppage does not affect humanitarian aid sent to relief agencies.
Palestinian officials denounced the decision, saying the move punishes the Palestinian people. They also stress that Hamas politicians were elected democratically by Palestinian voters.
Udwin says the EU must develop new measures to deal with Hamas. EU foreign ministers are expected to further discuss the payment stoppage at their meeting in Brussels Monday.
The 25-nation European bloc is the biggest donor of aid to the Palestinians. Almost 37 million dollars was earmarked for release later this year.
The European Union, the United States and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist organization.
The United States has already suspended aid to the Hamas-led government, and Israel has halted the monthly transfer of millions of dollars in tax revenues that it collects for the Palestinians.
Washington says it is working to channel humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people through the United Nations and other international agencies.