House Appropriations Call to Cut Palestinian Aid Will Strengthen Hamas

September 28th, 2011

WASHINGTON—The leadership of the House Committee on Appropriations today released its draft committee report on State and Foreign Operations Appropriations for FY2012, proposing to end assistance to the Palestinian Authority that is vital to Israel’s security. “The Appropriations proposal to end aid to the Palestinian Authority is counterproductive. It will undermine the Palestinian moderates and redound to the benefit of Hamas,” said Dylan Williams, J Street’s Director of Government Relations. The bill would zero out US support for the state-building programs of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s government if Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pursues recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations. Appropriators have also threatened to cut funding for US training of Palestinian Authority security forces which cooperate with the Israeli government to prevent attacks against Israel from the West Bank—cooperation that, in the estimate of Israel’s internal security agency (Shin Bet), made last year the most terror-free in Israel’s history. “Across the political spectrum—from Bill Clinton to Joe Scarborough, from Robert Wexler to Senator Lindsey Graham—American friends of Israel are calling on the House to maintain aid to the PA that is essential to keeping Israelis safer in their homes. The policy advocated in today’s report could very well imperil Israeli lives in a self-defeating effort to score political points,” said Williams. ###

Republicans, Democrats, Jewish leaders and Israeli Government All Support Continued US Aid to the Palestinians

Former President Bill Clinton, in an interview with ABC News, cautioned Congress against going too far by cutting Palestinian aid. “I hope that won't happen unless the administration asks for that. I think that everybody knows the US Congress is the most pro-Israel parliamentary body in the world... the Secretary of state and the national security team should determine what happens on the aid front, I don't think Congress ought to take an option away from the administration in trying to work through this.”[1]

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said in reference to moves to cut aid: “I would caution my House colleagues, let’s make sure we’re doing what’s best for our country and our national security.”[2]

MSNBC “Morning Joe” host and former Congressman Joe Scarborough called the effort to cut US aid to the PA “reckless and irresponsible,” saying it would “undermine Israel,” and stating “If Rick Perry wants to help Hamas, go ahead, cut aid.”[3]

The Government of Israel, in a September report to the World Bank, stated its support for aid: “Israel calls for ongoing international support for the PA budget and development projects that will contribute to the growth of a vibrant sector, which will provide the PA an expanded base for generating internal revenue.”[4]

MK Avi Dichter (Kadima), a former Israeli Minister of Internal Security, said this month in an Israeli news article: "Even if the [Israeli] government fails to prevent unilateral recognition (of a Palestinian state) at the UN, the State of Israel cannot think in terms of punishing the Palestinians.  [A] Palestinian state is a national Israeli interest, not less than it is a Palestinian one.”[5]

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of The Israel Project, told Reuters that funding joint security programs between Israel and the Palestinians is critical: “We have made the case that the security cooperation, which is largely funded and supported by America, needs to continue if we want to see the progress ... in reducing terrorism continue.”[6]

Elliott Abrams, former Deputy National Security Adviser for Middle East affairs to US President George W. Bush, cautioned against cutting aid in testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee: “The security assistance case is more obvious because this ... has been in our national interest and it has also helped Israel a good deal. But the doubts extend to the non-security aid as well because the question is: what will happen if the PA collapses? Won’t that simply create greater and more difficult responsibilities for Israel?”[7]

Former US Representative Robert Wexler (D-FL), told Politico’s Ben Smith, While Hamas would "cheer" Governor Rick Perry's threats to defund the Palestinian Authority, Israelis would "pay in blood."[8]

 


[1] This Week (ABC), 'This Week' Transcript: Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, September 18, 2011

 

[2] CQ, “Lawmakers Shaping Palestine Plans in Advance of Possible UN Action,” September 15, 2011

[3] Morning Joe, On the United Nations, September 21, 2011

[4] Measures Taken by Israel in Support of Developing the Palestinian Economy and Socio-Economic Structure, Report of the Government of Israel to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, September 18, 2011

[5] YNET, “Livni: Gov't to blame for Palestinian UN bid,” September 15, 2011

[6] Reuters, “Some pro-Israel groups defend US aid to Palestinians,” September 14, 2011

[7] Reuters, “Some pro-Israel groups defend US aid to Palestinians,” September 14, 2011

[8] Politico, “Obama backer: Israelis would 'pay in blood' for Perry's 'obsession'," September 20,2011