RAMALLAH, May 10 (JMCC) - As a congressional subcommittee submitted its proposal for the United States foreign aid budget Wednesday, Palestinians were singled out.
The 40.1 billion non-military foreign operations budget for 2013 cuts funding for UNESCO after its acceptance of Palestine as a member organization last year. The move was required by a previous law that requires the US to halt funding for any UN agency that admits Palestinians as full members.
But the budget plan also requires funding to the Palestinian Authority to be halted if Palestinians join any other UN organization. Additionally, it sanctions Palestinians if they do not curb incitement or implement a unity agreement between the Fateh-led Palestinian Authority and Hamas, according to the
Obama used a waiver in April to release $147 million in funding to the Palestinian Authority that had been frozen by Congress after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sought statehood at the United Nations last year. While the funds largely go to development and security projects, their withdrawal contributed to a general and ongoing budget crisis.
The US appropriations bill also cuts funding from the United Nations Human Rights Council, which has been criticized by Israel, and puts conditions on funding to Egypt. Were Egypt to end its peace agreement with Israel or not fulfill certain human rights requirements, the US would freeze 1.3 billion in military aid in place since the signing of the Camp David accords.
In a separate statement, three lawmakers asked a congressional budget agency to examine what US monies have gone to the Palestinian Investment Fund and charged that the group's assets have been taken control of by Hamas in Gaza and may be used by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to build homes for convicted terrorists, reports the
Jewish Telegraph Agency.
The news coincided with the announcement by the Palestine Investment Fund that it made profits of $39 million last year. The fund has invested in numerous projects, including the second Palestinian telecommunications operator, and a plan to extract a gas field off the coast of Gaza. It is linked with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, which is at odds with Hamas.