Congressmen seek probe into PA use of US funds

Move follows MK Matalon letters to US House, Senate, detailing PA president's policy to pay convicted terrorists released by Israel.

US Capitol building 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Jim Bourg)
US Capitol building 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Jim Bourg)
Florida Democratic Congressman Ted Deutsch and New York Democratic Congressman Steve Israel have asked US Comptroller-General Gene Dodaro to investigate the Palestinian Authority’s use of American funding.
The request this week came three weeks after MK Moshe Matalon (Israel Beiteinu) had sent a letter to the budget committees of the US Senate and House of Representatives, informing them of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s policy of paying freed Palestinian prisoners who had been convicted of murder $5,000 and building them new homes.
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Matalon received a copy of the congressmen’s letter on Thursday.
“Many of the released prisoners were convicted of orchestrating and carrying out Hamas-sponsored terrorist attacks in Israel, including the bombing of a Tel Aviv nightclub that killed 21 people, the attack on a Netanya hotel that killed 29 people, and the bombing of a Sbarro Pizzeria that killed 15 people,” Deutsch and Israel wrote.
The two congressmen explained to Dodaro that they “are troubled by reports of President Abbas’ use of Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF) funds to provide housing for these convicted terrorists.”
According to the letter, the US contributed to the PIF after PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad founded it in 2002 “under a framework of transparency and accountability.” However, recently there has been “ambiguity surrounding the amount of US taxpayer dollars contributed to the PIF,” Deutsch and Israel wrote.
Aside from the issue of Abbas building houses for convicted terrorists, Deutsch and Israel “are concerned about the increasing lack of transparency for the PIF as well as reports that Prime Minister Fayyad is no longer overseeing the fund and that Hamas has taken control of PIF assets in Gaza.”
The letter also requested that the US Government Accountability Office, which Dodaro heads, investigate whether US Economic Support Funds (ESF) given to the PA were used to fund Abbas’s trips around the world “on his misguided attempt to unilaterally declare statehood at the United Nations... efforts that are in direct contravention of US policy.”
The congressmen said US ESF should not be used “to fund Mr. Abbas’ extensive lobbying to achieve a Palestinian state by any means other than direct negotiations with Israel.”
They added that “the US must be unequivocally committed to ensuring that American taxpayer dollars are used to serve the interests of the US and our allies around the world.”
In his letter three weeks ago, Matalon had written that Abbas was rewarding “unrepentant terrorists.”
“At the ceremony Abbas held [in honor of released prisoners] in Ramallah, he is reported as having praised these individuals for their ‘courage and sacrifice,’” the Israel Beiteinu MK wrote. “The atrocities referred to by Abbas as acts of ‘courage’... include the murders of scores of innocents, including women and children.”
He continued: “I feel it incumbent upon myself to present these facts to you, as a fellow parliamentarian, not as interference in your parliamentary activities, but rather in order to ensure that the full facts are before you, as you deliberate on whether to continue extending financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority.”