News / Middle East

    Congressional Panel Reexamines Aid to Palestinians

    Cindy Saine

    A key committee of the House of Representatives held a hearing on Wednesday to reexamine U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority, if it goes ahead with plans to submit an application to the United Nations for full membership as a state.  Envoys for the United States and the European Union are trying to persuade the Palestinians to drop the U.N. statehood bid, which could come up as early as next week at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York.

    The Republican chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, is a vocal opponent of the Palestinian plan.  And she criticized President Barack Obama and his administration for not speaking out sooner to dissuade the Palestinian Authority from seeking statehood recognition at the United Nations.

    "We stand at a critical juncture with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which will inevitably have a major impact throughout the region.  Events appear to be headed in an increasingly negative direction, and regrettably, the administration has been slow to take action," she said.

    Ros-Lehtinen introduced a bill earlier this month that would cut funding to any United Nations agency that supports the Palestinian bid for statehood.  And at Wednesday's hearing, there was broad agreement among Republicans and Democrats that a unilateral bid for Palestinian statehood would be setback to the Mideast peace process.

    The committee's ranking Democrat, Howard Berman, pointed out that the United States has been the biggest supporter of the Palestinian Authority, providing more than $4 billion in aid during the past 15 years.  He called on Palestinians not to put such assistance at risk. "Should the Palestinians pursue their unilateralist course, the hundreds of millions of dollars in annual assistance that we have given them in recent years will likely be terminated, and that could well result in the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.  And it pains me to say that.  U.S. aid has contributed significantly to many positive developments in the West Bank," he said.

    President Obama has warned that if the Palestinians try to win statehood recognition from the U.N. Security Council, the United States will veto the resolution.  The United States has long maintained that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are the only path toward peace in the Middle East, and achieving separate Israeli and Palestinian states that coexist peacefully.

    Elliott Abrams, who served as President George W. Bush's deputy national security adviser for Middle East affairs, warned the committee that the United States should move cautiously on cutting aid to the Palestinians, and that it should distinguish between the Palestinian Authority, which is an administrative body, and the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO.  He said a symbolic, non-financial gesture might be the best response to Palestinian statehood recognition.

    "I think you ought to move to close the PLO office in Washington.  It is the PLO that is doing this.  It is the PLO whose ambassador [Tuesady], in a speech that I would describe as disgusting, said that in the new state of Palestine there should not be one Jew," he said. "He did not say 'Israeli,' he said 'Jew.'"

    Analyst David Makovsky of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy warned that a complete cut-off of U.S. aid might hurt moderate Palestinians and embolden Hamas, which the United States has designated as a terrorist organization. "Congressional aid has produced unprecedented levels of West Bank stability, prosperity, improved governance and previously unimaginable levels of Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation that have benefited Palestinians and Israelis alike.  Any changes to U.S. aid should therefore be carefully calibrated," he said.

    Several Democratic and Republican members of the House panel questioned what U.S. taxpayers had received for their support to the Palestinians, and called on the Palestinian leadership to resume negotiations with Israel.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.