Joint session of the US Congress 311 (R).
(photo credit: Jim Young / Reuters)
The United States Congress reportedly blocked the transfer of $200
million in aid to the Palestinian Authority in what a Palestinian
official called "collective punishment" for the PA's bid for membership
in the United Nations, UK daily The Independent reported on Saturday.
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unconfirmed report says that an unpublicized block on the transfer of
funds, less than one third of the aid sent to the PA annually, has been
in place since August.
United States is opposed to the Palestinian bid to seek full UN
membership and has vowed to veto such a move in the Security Council.
PA spokesman Ghassan Khatib told The Independent
that cutting aid to the PA is "unjustified. 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."
In mid September, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee began debating
cutting off US aid to the Palestinian Authority for breaking ranks with
the American-brokered peace process. In her opening statement, Committee
Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), credited former President George
H.W. Bush in 1989 with “stop[ping] dead in its tracks” attempts by
former Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat to seek recognition from various
UN agencies after statehood was declared a year before. Ros-Lehtinen
called upon President Obama to do the same in 2011 “to stop Abu Mazen’s
[PA President Abbas] dangerous unilateral scheme” by suspending funds to
any UN agency “that granted membership or any upgraded status to the
In July, a key Congressional committee considered a foreign aid bill
that threatened funding to the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon, and
would codify in law the George W. Bush letter to Ariel Sharon.
The bill, drawn up by Ros-Lehtinen, would also end by 2014 the
president’s ability to waive the law that requires him to move the US
embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as well as mandate that official
American documents list Jerusalem as part of Israel. The State
Department would also have to report on its diplomatic activities on
behalf of Israel to end efforts at isolating it.
Furthermore, it conditions aid to the PA on its recognition of Israel as
a Jewish state and ending all anti-Israel incitement in state-owned
media, among other measures; while aid to Lebanon includes a stipulation
that no member of Hezbollah serve in the government.Hilary Leila Krieger and The Media Line contributed to this report.