WASHINGTON (AP) — The Palestinians will receive some of the $147 million in US developmental aid that has been on hold for six months.
Rep. Kay Granger, the Republican chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, said Friday she was ending her opposition to allowing the money to flow, arguing that peace and stability were critical in the Palestinian territories amid the overall unrest in the Middle East. A spokesman for Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said she would send a letter to the Obama administration indicating that she was lifting her hold on a portion of the aid.
It was unclear how much of the $147 million would be heading to the Palestinians. Ros-Lehtinen had said at a congressional hearing earlier this week that some of the projects “are aimed at addressing humanitarian concerns — funding for water programs, health, food, and support for USAID programming. Congress and the administration can find common ground on these. However, there are others that Congress finds difficult to justify as advancing US national security interests or in assisting our ally and friend Israel.”
Last summer, Granger and Ros-Lehtinen had placed a hold on the funds in response to the Palestinians push for statehood at the United Nations. The Obama administration and Congress opposed that move, arguing that any recognition should come through a peace treaty with Israel.
But the administration and even Israel have pressured lawmakers to free up the assistance. In an interview with The Associated Press last year, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the administration has reached out to Israel — which has an interest in maintaining Palestinian security aid — to convince Congress to support assistance.
“We’re asking the Israelis on a case-by-case basis,” she said.
Last November, Ros-Lehtinen lifted her hold on millions in economic support funds for the Palestinian Security Forces and other assistance.
The Palestinians have received about $500 million a year from the US alone in recent years, including tens of millions of dollars for training the Palestinian security services.
In a statement, Granger said she had 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. Right now it is in our interest — and the interest of our allies in the region — to allow aid to flow to address security and humanitarian concerns.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.