U.S. Unblocks Aid to Palestinian Authority (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Elad Benari 03/25/12)
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Two Republicans in the House of Representatives have released
restrictions on the disbursement of U.S. assistance to the
Palestinian Authority that have been blocked in Congress, CNN
U.S. aid to the PA was frozen after the entity unilaterally turned to
the United Nations and asked for recognition of a Palestinian state.
According to the CNN report, Rep. Kay Granger, chairwoman of the
House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on State, Foreign
Operations and Related Programs, said she was releasing a hold on all
of the $147 million in congressionally appropriated money for the PA.
House Foreign Affairs Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen only partially
lifted her block for more than half of the funds to be sent.
“In many ways, there is more uncertainty now than there was a year
ago. Peace and stability in the Palestinian Territories could not be
more critical at this moment,” Granger was quoted as having said in a
written statement on Friday. "I have taken a strong position on aid
to the (Palestinian Authority) to send a message that seeking
statehood at the United Nations, forming a unity government with
Hamas and walking away from the negotiating table with Israel were
not pathways to peace.”
Granger noted she decided to release her hold for humanitarian
reasons and to help increase stability in the area controlled by the
Meanwhile, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said in a letter to Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton and USAID Administrator Raj Shah that she was
only partially lifting her blockage of $88.6 million in assistance.
Ros-Lehtinen said she would not object to the disbursement so long as
the funds were not used for assistance and recovery in Hamas-
controlled Gaza and road construction projects in the PA-controlled
areas of Judea and Samaria, except those directly related to security
and projects with permits from Israel.
She added that she also objected to the funds´ use in trade
facilitation, tourism promotion and office refurbishment or
improvements to PA agencies and ministries.
In her letter, Ros-Lehtinen cited the role of Hamas and its control
of Gaza as reasons for not releasing the remaining $58.6 million
appropriated to the PA.
She wrote, “I am particularly concerned with the $26.4 million that
the administration seeks to provide for ´Gaza Assistance and
Recovery.´ Just a week after the recent rocket attacks against
Israel, the Administration is pressuring Congress to provide
resources and funding for Gaza that allows Hamas the flexibility
necessary to continue its rule over the area. Programming, like
funding is fungible, and allows Hamas and other extremists to utilize
their resources to continue their efforts against the United States
and Israel. That is why I am not releasing the hold on funds for this
The release of the aid comes just one week after PA Prime Minister
Salam Fayyad said that his government would reduce expenses if donor
countries fail to pay aid they pledged to the PA.
The International Monetary Fund released a report last week, which
estimated a financing gap of about $500 million.
The IMF said the PA economy had entered a “difficult phase”, with a
severe liquidity crunch worsening since last year due to a drop in
aid from Western backers and wealthy Gulf states and Israeli
restrictions on trade.
Most of the aid to the PA comes from the United States, the European
Union and Arab nations, allowing the Palestinian Authority to pay the
salaries of public workers and benefits.
A recent World Bank report said the PA is undergoing a financial
crisis and also admitted that it was primarily due to the lack of
donor countries fulfilling their pledges to fork over billions of
dollars to Ramallah.
Fayyad warned several months ago that the Palestinian Authority may
soon fail financially and cease to exist. (IsraelNationalNews © 2012
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