Haaretz - Report: U.S. blocks $200 million in aid to Palestinian Authority
- Haaretz - Sat, October 01, 2011
• Published 08:23 01.10.11
• Latest update 08:23 01.10.11
Report: U.S. blocks $200 million in aid to Palestinian Authority
Funding stopped by three congressional committees in response to UN
statehood bid, according to report by U.K's Independent newspaper; PA
calls move 'collective punishment.'
By Haaretz Tags: Palestinian state Palestinian Authority UN Security
The United States Congress has blocked nearly $200m in aid to the
Palestinians, the U.K’s Independent newspaper reported on Saturday.
The aid, which was destined for projects related to food aid, health
care, and state building efforts, was to have been transferred to the
Palestinian Authority during the U.S. fiscal year that ends today,
according to the report.
However, following what the Independent described as an “unpublicized
block” imposed on funding to the Palestinians since August this year, in
response to the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN, the remainder
of the aid allocated to the Palestinian Authority for the current
financial year will not be transferred.
The Independent reported that the block by three Congressional
committees has been in force since August 18, when it was formally
notified that USAID, the U.S. government aid agency, wanted to transfer
the remaining $192m funding for the current fiscal year.
Obama’s administration is unable to commit further funding to the
Palestinian Authority unless it persuades Congress to lift the freeze,
according to the report.
The decision was strongly condemned by the Palestinian Authority on
Friday, the Independent said.
Ghassan Khatib, chief spokesman for the Palestinian Authority said on
Friday that, "this is not constructive at all. Such moves are
unjustified,” the Independent reported.
“These are mainly humanitarian and development projects, it is another
kind of collective punishment which is going to harm the needs of the
public without making any positive contribution," the Independent
reported him as saying.
There have been demands in Congress throughout the year to withhold
funding to the Palestinian Authority if it pursues the UN route to
statehood. Rep. Gary Ackerman, member of the House Subcommittee on the
Middle East and South Asia, said on Monday at a gathering of Congressmen
and leaders of Jewish organizations outside the United Nations
headquarters in New York that "there may need to be a total cutoff of
all aid to the Palestinians for pursuing this course of action which is
very dangerous and ill advised."
Resolution 268, passed by a majority in the Congress in July, urged the
Obama administration to suspend financial assistance to the PA if it
pushed for a UN vote on recognition of statehood, and called for a
renewal of direct talks with Israel and the Palestinians.
The UN Security Council panel on admitting new members to the United
Nations met on Friday for the first time on the Palestinian bid to join
the world body as Palestinians lobbied council members for support.
The United Nations panel responsible for admitting new members will
likely mull the Palestinian statehood application for several weeks
before making a decision, diplomatic sources said Friday.
The general consensus at the United Nations headquarters in New York is
that the panel discussions over the Palestinian application for full
membership will continue to deliberate over technical matters as long as
the U.S., European Union and the Quartet are leading efforts to renew
negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
According to diplomatic sources, the U.S. and its Western allies have a
special interest in ‘dragging’ the debate on, with the purpose of giving
their efforts vis-à-vis Israel and the Palestinian Authority a fighting