Showing some spine, Congress blocks $200 million in aid to Palestinians
Why reward Abbas for refusing to negotiate and use the UN to end run the peace process?
The United States Congress has blocked nearly $200m in aid for the Palestinians, threatening projects such as food aid, health care, and support for efforts to build a functioning state.
The decision to delay the payments runs counter to the wishes of the Obama administration and reflects Congressional anger at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's so far unrealised pursuit of Fatah-Hamas reconciliation and statehood recognition at the UN.
The freezing of the funds, which were to have been dispersed in the US fiscal year that ends today, is the most tangible sign yet of the seriousness of Congressional leaders' threats of an even wider halt to funding in the coming year if Mr Abbas continues with his actions at the UN. It was strongly condemned yesterday by the Palestinian Authority.
There have been persistent demands in Congress to withhold up to $600m - the average amount given by the US in bilateral assistance to the West Bank and Gaza every year since 2008 - in the next financial year over the issue.
The administration remains, as does Congress, opposed to the Palestinians' application for full UN membership, which Mr Abbas submitted last week. But it argues that assistance to the Palestinian people is what a US official described as "an essential part of the US commitment to a secure future and two-state solution for Palestinians".
Nonsense. What will secure a future two state solution is Hamas and Fatah recognizing Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state within secure borders. Accepting anything short of that would be suicide for Israel. If the US Congress can pressure the Palestinians to recognize reality and negotiate in good faith on those terms, they would have advanced the peace process.
Also, the fact that the Palestinians passionately hate America makes it a little odd that they would object to the cut off. I would have thought they would be dancing in the streets - just like they did after the towers fell on 9/11.