US may consider offering Abbas funds

Senior American diplomat in ME says US still sees Abbas as a partner.

david welch 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
david welch 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
The US may consider in the future providing financial assistance directly to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and the offices that he is in charge of, while making sure the money does not reach the Hamas. Assistant Secretary of State for Near East, David Welch, said Monday in Washington that the US still sees Abbas as a partner that accepts the three conditions set forth by the international community in regard to the Middle East conflict and is interested in keeping open communication channels with him. "We will keep contact with President Abbas - we will also keep contact with any organizations that report directly to him or any independent Palestinian entities," Welch said at a panel discussion during the annual conference of the Anti Defamation League (ADL). The senior American diplomat in charge of the Middle East also added that "President Abbas has said yes, yes and yes to each of the three principles and he represents an important voice politically among Palestinians." According to Welch, there is no immediate plan to provide Abbas with direct financial assistance "but we haven't ruled that out. We may or may not do that depending on what the proposition is. I think most of the international community probably will adopt the same position." Pro-Israeli activists in the US have expressed concern over the possibility that the US will provide in the future direct financial aid to the Palestinian president, fearing it may reach eventually the hands of the Hamas. The new legislation, which is debated in Congress, allows the administration to provide direct assistance to the PA only if it was needed for conducting elections or for the protection of the Palestinian president. Assistant Secretary Welch, who was in the region earlier this month, stressed that the US is not going to change its stand in regard to Hamas and that it insists that Hamas recognize Israel, stops violence and accepts the previous agreements, before being seen as a legitimate partner. "I don't see any substantial movement or even any modest movement on the part of Hamas, now that it is in government, to accept any of the three conditions," Welch said, pointing out that though there are some differences in the approach of the international community towards the Middle East, there is solid support for the need that Hamas accept the three conditions before negotiating with them.