US Congress freezes transfer of $86 m. to Abbas

The US Congress voted on Wednesday to freeze 86 million dollars in funds that had been earmarked to enhance Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Presidential Guard, according to an Army Radio report. The House of Representatives had requested a clarification of the diplomatic policies that will be pursued by the Palestinians following the signing of a power-sharing accord between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah movement in Mecca last week, days before the money was to be transferred. "We need to better understand what exactly we are financing, and also to receive answers to the questions that were raised following [the signing of] this accord," said Rep. Elian Ross-Litnan, who was a key supporter of the decision to withhold the monies. The decision was accepted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as she departed for Germany Wednesday afternoon in order to attend a meeting of the Quartet in which the ramifications of the new agreement will discussed by world leaders. On Friday, the Quartet reiterated that Hamas must renounce violence and recognize Israel and previous agreements signed between the PA government and Jewish State in order to be eligible for desperately need aid that had been suspended following Hamas's victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections held last spring.