'Palestinian state declaration would hurt US aid to PA'

Kay Granger tells ‘Post’ that Israel’s aid should not be singled out, unilateral declaration of 'Palestine' will affect US aid to PA and UN.

kay granger GOOD 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
kay granger GOOD 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
WASHINGTON – A top congresswoman is warning that the US could reduce aid to the Palestinians if they pursue a unilateral declaration of statehood at the UN.
“That would be a very, very bad thing to do,” Rep. Kay Granger, chairwoman of the House appropriations subcommittee overseeing foreign aid, told The Jerusalem Post. (The interview will appear in Monday’s Pessah supplement.) “It will” affect US aid to the Palestinian Authority, the Texas Republican said, adding, “It would be a very serious step. It also could affect our funding at the UN.”
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For the time being, however, she said that she supports aid for the Palestinians and sees the US continuing to contribute hundreds of millions in dollars for Palestinian security despite the GOP zeal for reducing spending.
“We believed that was important, and I continue to believe that’s important,” she said. “I’ve been there and seen some of the security that’s occurring that we’re helping to fund. And I think overall it’s a help – it’s a help toward reaching a peace, if we can do that.”
Granger also told the Post that she and other Republicans remained committed to aid for Israel, which totals nearly $3 billion in annual assistance.
“The friendship and assistance is solid from the Congress, both the House andSenate and both Democrats and Republicans,” she said.
When the Republican focus on making cuts – particularly to foreign aid – first surfaced during last year’s congressional campaigns, some Israel-backers, including Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, who is now the House majority leader, suggested funding for Israel might be put in the defense budget. That way, since the defense budget was less likely to face sharp cuts, Israel funding could be more secure.
But Grangers said she opposed such a move, and for the time being it appears to be off the table.
“What I want to ensure is that funding for Israel’s there, but it not be singled out, because I think it’s really at risk there,” she said. “Some of the people that suggested it be pulled out of foreign operations I think were well intended – but I think they’re wrong, because it makes Israel such a target, and so much attention [focused] just on Israel.”
In the short-term, aid to Israel and the PA has been preserved, but events on Capitol Hill, as well as at the UN, could affect that.
The idea of cutting PA aid should its leaders approach the UN for recognition of statehood without an agreement with Israel has the support of Democrats as well as Republicans, according to a aide to a Democrat on Granger’s subcommittee.
“The aid to the Palestinians includes the US’s understanding the Palestinians will continue to keep pursuing peace with Israel as per the Oslo agreement. If they were to unilaterally declare a state, they would be violating that understanding,” he said. “I think there’s no question that if they were to unilaterally declare a state, it would affect our aid.”
Ghaith al-Omari, advocacy director for the American Task Force for Palestine, welcomed Granger’s commitment to maintaining PA security funding.
“It’s very positive that she is supporting one of the things that’s clearly succeeded over the last period,” Omari said.
Regarding the threat that going to the UN could pose for US funding, Omari said the Palestinians “have to understand there’s a huge price to pay, not only in terms of funding for Congress, but in terms of relationships with the administration. So they would have to weigh the perceived benefits of going to the UN with the many possible costs that would come with it.”
There are also members of Congress who want US aid to the Egyptians to be dependent on whether whatever new government takes power adheres to its peace treaty with Israel. Democratic Reps. Shelley Berkley of Nevada and Eliot Engel of New York have sponsored legislation to condition funding on that point.
In addition, the US Senate on Thursday night overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for the Goldstone Report to be rescinded.
It “calls on the United Nations Human Rights Council members to reflect the author’s repudiation of the Goldstone report’s central findings, rescind the report, and reconsider further council actions with respect to the report’s findings.”