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American Aid and the Palestinian Authority

8 May 2005

The United States of America is possibly the largest international donor to the Palestinians since 1993:

USAID funding for the West Bank and Gaza between 1993 and 2004 totaled approximately $1.5 billion. [source]

Most of these funds have not been transferred directly to the PA, although many organisations, such as Paltrade, are close to the senior elite and have benefited from American generosity.

Following the election of Abu Mazen, the Bush government promised that it would support the new Palestinian government both diplomatically and financially. The report below from the New York Times outlines the progress of these commitments.

The Funding For Peace Coalition notes the significant differences in the approach of the Americans to the way European powers have transferred their aid to the Palestinians.

There is a clear attempt on the part of Washington to ensure that taxpayers' money is directed to the target population. This latest investment is segregated from budgets known to have been manipulated by a fraudulent elite.

Palestinians to Get Aid, With Strings, in House Plan

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/06/politics/06aid.html

May 6, 2005

By STEVEN R. WEISMAN

WASHINGTON, May 5 - The House of Representatives approved $200 million in aid for Palestinians on Thursday, and the White House welcomed the vote despite the imposition of restrictions on how the money is to be spent that were included over administration objections.

The spending measure is expected to gain final passage in the Senate next week. But instead of $200 million for the Palestinian Authority as President Bush had requested, $150 million was earmarked for Palestinians and $50 million to Israel, for construction of a crossing facility enabling Palestinians to get from Gaza to Israel.

In a separate restriction, one that a Palestinian consultant said would be seen as a slap at the Palestinian leadership, the spending measure effectively bars the money from going to the Palestinian Authority itself or its president, Mahmoud Abbas, who is known as Abu Mazen.

Instead, the money is to be channeled through American aid agencies, nongovernment organizations and philanthropic groups.

"The Palestinians will see this as a vote of no confidence in Abu Mazen," said Edward Abington, a consultant to the Palestinian leadership. He accused the administration of "sitting on its hands" while Congress applied the restrictions to a program that Mr. Bush promoted in his State of the Union Message this year.

Administration officials said the restrictions were put in by supporters of Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, who has been skeptical of the administration's support of a Palestinian state. Mr. DeLay has received backing on that position from conservative Jewish and evangelical Christian groups.

The White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said the restrictions applied by the House and Senate did not materially change the fact that $200 million would end up being used to benefit the Palestinian people. Another $150 million is to be sought in a separate budget bill later this year.

"We applaud Congress for including $200 million in the supplemental funding," Mr. McClellan said at the briefing. The money, he added, would help the Palestinians and their goods to "move about freely" between Israel and Gaza.

An administration official, amplifying Mr. McClellan's view but declining to be identified to avoid stirring conflict with Congress, said that the administration would have preferred the money be given to the Palestinian Authority.

To give such direct aid, Congress would have had to include language in its bill allowing President Bush to waive a ban on this kind of aid that has been in place since an attack on American security aides who were traveling in Gaza. American officials say the Palestinians have not done enough to track down those responsible for the attack.

But an administration official said Thursday that President Bush may still have the legal authority to waive the ban and that some of the $50 million may end up being spent by the Palestinians for building their side of the crossing.


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