Joint session of the US Congress 311 (R).
(photo credit: Jim Young / Reuters)
Jewish organizations in America have expressed concern with regard to the
ongoing financial aid provided by the US to the Palestinian
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Morton Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization
of America, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the organization is
conducting conversations with US congressmen through which they are seeking to
end US aid to the PA in light of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement signed
in April; as well as a recent report from Israeli lobbying group Palestinian
Media Watch, which states the PA is paying salaries to 5,500 Palestinian
prisoners convicted of terrorist offenses, totaling $5.2 million a
The unity deal signed between Hamas and Fatah on April 27 is yet
to be implemented due to a number of serious disagreements between the two
Speaking to the Post
, a State Department official said the direct
budget support provided by the US does not go toward PA salaries at all and is
used instead to pay debts owed by the PA to private sector entities with
contracts providing goods and services to the Palestinian government.
are broadly continuing to assess the Palestinian government in light of the
recent reconciliation agreement and plan to determine our assistance according
to US law as and when a new Palestinian government is formed,” the official
said, adding the State Department believes PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime
Minister Salam Fayyad have illustrated that they are “firm in their opposition
to acts of violence and terrorism.”
Executive Vice Chairman of the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Malcolm Hoenlein
said the fact that the PA is rewarding “terrorists” on an ongoing basis is
unacceptable, especially at a time when it is claiming that it cannot pay the
wages of its civil servants and public workers.
“Funds are fungible, but
the real issue here is not the US, it’s the Palestinian Authority,” Hoenlein
said in comments to the Post
. “If the PA is serious about sending the right
message then it should stop these salaries now.”
He added that one option
the US could consider would be to deduct the sum the PA spends on the prisoners
from the US aid-package to the Palestinian government.
The dovish J
Street organization said it believes continued international aid to the
Palestinian Authority is “essential for Israel’s present security and the
prospects for peace,” pointing out the US Security Coordinator for Israel and
the PA, Lt.-Gen.
Mike Moeller told Congress in July that US assistance
and cooperation has made PA security forces into a “trusted, capable partner”
for the Israeli security establishment.
“We have no doubt that cutting or
imposing insurmountable new preconditions on aid to the Palestinian Authority
would jeopardize Israel’s security and strengthen Hamas,” the statement
In 2010, the US gave $600m. to the PA, including $225m. in
direct budgetary assistance. The Palestinian Authority is currently
facing a financial crisis.
According to Palestinian news agency Ma’an,
Salam Fayyad said last week the PA urgently needs $300m. to ease its cash
crisis, blaming the failure of foreign donor countries, particularly Arab
governments, to deliver on their aid pledges.
A public sector strike was
staved off on Sunday after the PA said it would pay full salaries for July. The
Palestinian government was only able to pay half-wages in June to the 170,000
people on its payroll.
The Palestinian Media Watch report pointed out
that the terms of the 2010 appropriations act for monetary assistance to the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip insist that assistance not be provided to any
individuals or government entities that engage, or have engaged, in terrorist