Canada Suspends Assistance to Hamas

Canada said Wednesday it was suspending assistance to the Palestinian Authority because the new Hamas-led government refuses to renounce violence and recognize Israel. Hamas responded that Ottawa's decision was hasty and unfair.

It was the first government besides Israel to cut off financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority since Hamas won the legislative elections in January, and other nations were expected to follow suit.

Hamas formally took power Wednesday, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swearing in its 24-member Cabinet.

Hamas and new Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh insist they won't soften the militant group's violent ideology or formally recognize its longtime nemesis.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said in a statement that Canada had no choice but to suspend assistance and decline any contact with the new Hamas Cabinet.

"The stated platform of this government has not addressed the concerns raised by Canada and others concerning nonviolence, the recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the roadmap for peace," MacKay said. "As a result, Canada will have no contact with the members of the Hamas Cabinet and is suspending assistance to the Palestinian Authority."

With Hamas now at the helm, the cash-strapped Palestinian government faces a crippling international economic boycott,

Canada, like the United States, Europe and Israel, considers Hamas a terrorist organization.