US releases hold on $200 million in PA security funds

C'tee chair Ros-Lehtinen releases block on aid after Obama administration convinces her funds to PA support US, Israeli interests.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
November 7, 2011 20:52
1 minute read.
Obama meets with Abbas at UN in NY [file]

Obama meets with Abbas 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

 
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WASHINGTON – A key US lawmaker cleared the way Monday for the Palestinian Authority to receive $200 million in aid, after the Obama administration convinced her that releasing security funds to the PA was in Israel’s and the United States’ interests.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said she would release her block on two separate sections of security aid – one for $50 million and the other for $150 million.

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An additional $200 million in economic assistance is still being withheld by both the State and Foreign Relations Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Both the security and economic funds were frozen by Congress in August, in response to the PA’s strategy of seeking unilateral recognition of statehood during the UN General Assembly in September.

A second key House leader, State and Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee chairwoman Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), whose subcommittee falls under the Appropriations Committee, had used her committee to freeze only the economic aid, believing PA security forces aided in countering the influence of Hamas.

Ros-Lehtinen’s move has removed the last roadblock to the security aid package.

Funding packages can be blocked by either chairwoman, and need the support of both representatives in order to be released.

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In recent weeks, Ros- Lehtinen received extensive documentation from the administration explaining why releasing the security funds supported both American and Israeli interests.

The total package to the PA varies but is estimated at below $500 million.

Despite the freeze, the PA continued attempts at gaining recognition, recently securing such a vote in the UNESCO General Conference.

In response to that vote, the US cut funds to the UN organization, in accordance with a 1994 law that forbids the US from funding any UN organization that supports a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood.

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