Noam Schalit called on the US Congress to halt its funding to the Palestinian Authority until his son, Gilad, was freed from captivity in Gaza, Monday.
“I am calling on the heads of the Congress to use their influence to prevent financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority until Gilad is released,” Schalit said in a statement.
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He said he regretted Israel’s decision to transfer tax funds this month to the PA, in spite of the PA’s unity deal with Hamas, the organization that has held his son since June 2006.
Schalit’s words came just one day after US President Barack Obama called
on Hamas to free Gilad during a speech he gave before AIPAC.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is also expected to tell AIPAC that
the international community needs to be mobilized on Gilad’s behalf.
Tuesday, Netanyahu is expected to address a special meeting of Congress.
Last week, Schalit and his wife Aviva sent a letter to Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid and House of Representative Speaker John Boehner
asking that the PA funding be halted.
The letter was penned by the family’s attorney Gilead Sher who wrote
that, “The recent reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas might
well result in a ‘national unity government.’ Clearly the Palestinian
Authority’s spree of influence and responsibility now extend to the Gaza
With one government comes one responsibility,” said Sher.
He added that under the Rome Statute of the International Court 1998, it is a war crime to hold someone hostage.
“The Palestinian Authority has a clear duty to do everything they can to
locate Gilad, and they have a responsibility to stop this war crime
from being perpetuated by ensuring that he is released immediately.
“President Mahmoud Abbas has on several occasions called for the release
of Gilad Schalit. As head of the PA, it is time he delivers. Pressure
coming from the US may strengthen his resolve to work toward that end.”
The US has given an average of about $400m. per year to the PA headed by
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, much of it aimed at strengthening
governance and security in preparation for eventual statehood.
Total US assistance since 1994 has topped $3.5b.