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