News / Middle East

US Defense Chief Criticizes Palestinian Aid Block

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, smiles as Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks, in the Prime's Minister office in Jerusalem, Oct. 3, 2011.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, smiles as Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks, in the Prime's Minister office in Jerusalem, Oct. 3, 2011.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has criticized U.S. lawmakers for suspending $200 million in aid slated to fund development projects in the Palestinian territories.

Panetta said Monday at a news conference in Tel Aviv with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak that this is "no time to withhold those funds."  He said it is a "critical" moment in the region, as U.S. officials continue to urge Palestinians and Israelis to negotiate a peace deal.

The U.S. State Department said the Obama administration is in "intensive" discussions with key lawmakers who put a hold on the money.  The Palestinian government relies on foreign donors to help make up its yearly budget.

Officials from the U.S. government's foreign aid agency (USAID) confirmed that some programs were affected by the congressional hold, but they did not give details. Palestinian officials denounced the move as counterproductive to peace, saying it would not deter them from seeking full U.N. membership for a Palestinian state.

U.S. lawmakers froze the money in response to the Palestinian Authority's bid for statehood recognition over the objections of the U.S. and Israel, who say direct negotiations are the only path to Mideast peace.

Earlier Monday, Panetta held separate talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak. He also met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He is scheduled to travel to Egypt on Tuesday.

Panetta urged both sides to take "bold action" to move toward a two-state solution, saying there is "no alternative to negotiations" between Israelis and Palestinians.

His comments came as suspected Jewish extremists torched a mosque in a Bedouin village in northern Israel. Police have suspected Jewish radicals in other mosque fires this year.

Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres both angrily condemned what police say was a revenge attack. A Jewish West Bank settler and his infant son were killed last month in a car crash caused by Palestinian stonethrowers.

Israel has formally accepted an international plan for restarting negotiations, but the immediate resumption of talks appears unlikely as the two sides continue to differ over terms of the proposal.

Netanyahu Sunday welcomed "the Quartet's call for direct negotiations without preconditions." He said Israel has concerns about the plan that it will raise at the "appropriate time." He did not elaborate.

The Quartet of Middle East peace mediators - the U.S., EU, U.N. and Russia - issued a declaration last month calling for negotiations to resume "without delay or preconditions."

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs