PA to return $50 million to US

US fears funds, slated for infrastructure may reach Hamas, used for terrorism.

hamas 88 (photo credit: )
hamas 88
(photo credit: )
Late Friday, the Palestinian Authority agreed to a US request for the return of $50 million that had been earmarked for infrastructure projects in the territories, the State Department said Friday. The request was part of a review of American assistance programs to the Palestinians ordered after Hamas scored a surprise victory in legislative elections last month, spokesman Sean McCormack said. Beyond that, McCormack said, the United States feared the funds might "potentially make their way into the coffers of a future Palestinian government that might not recognize the right of Israel to exist." That is a tenet of the Hamas organization, which has sponsored terror bombings in its campaign against the Jewish state. President George W. Bush's administration says the United States will not deal with Hamas unless it alters its charter to remove the no-Israel clause. McCormack said most of the money still is in the bank. The money had been aimed at promoting economic revival in the territories after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza last year. McCormack raised the possibility that the money might be reallocated for use in food aid and child immunization programs in the territories. He said it remains the administration's policy to provide aid to the most vulnerable sectors of Palestinian society despite probable political problems with the new government.