Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Palestinians Threatened by United States Congress Over Statehood Appeal

US Palestinian aid could be cut if it continues to seek statehood

A movement to cut US aid to the Palestinian Authority if it pursues its application for recognition at the United Nations has gained ground with a bill seeking to block funding to any United Nations agency that supports the Palestinian bid.

By Phoebe Greenwood in Tel Aviv
11:20PM BST 31 Aug 2011

Republican congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced the bill to Congress with 57 co-sponsors. The proposed legislation would also stop US funds to the UN Human Rights Council and an anti-racism conference, which she claims is a platform for anti-Israel rhetoric.

Ghassan Khatib, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority said that this is the latest in a series of financial threats made by powerful lobbies in both the United States and Israel designed to deter the Palestinians from appealing to the United Nations on September 20.

Israel's Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz this week refused a request to deliver tax revenue owed to the Palestinian Authority two days early so that it could pay salaries before the start of week-long holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

Under the terms of the Oslo Accords, Israel retains control of Palestinian borders and the collection of Palestinian tax revenue, which comprises around two thirds of the authority's annual budget. Israel withheld this revenue for two weeks In May following the Fatah/ Hamas reconciliation.

Sizeable injections of foreign investment into the Palestinian Authority in 2010, including $470 million from the US, saw nine per cent economic growth. But the economy is fragile and relies on foreign aid. The UN estimates that 25 per cent of Palestinians live below the poverty line. .

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