WASHINGTON - The likely next head of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee said she is against handing out $150 million in direct aid to help the Palestinian Authority close its budget deficit.
On Wednesday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the new assistance to the Palestinian Authority and called for other donor countries to step up aid.
The new funding was described as budget support for the Palestinians and is separate from the $400 million in aid that President Barack Obama pledged in June during a White House visit by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican who stands to take over in January after her party won the House of Representatives, said she was deeply concerned over what she called the bailout of the Palestinian leadership, which she claims has failed to live up to its commitment to dismantle the Palestinian terror infrastructure, eradicate corruption and recognize Israel's
right to exist as a Jewish state.
“Sending US tax dollars to the Palestinian Authority to help them cover their budget shortfall is a bailout, plain and simple," she said.
“It is deeply disturbing that the Administration is continuing to bail out the Palestinian leadership when they continue to fail to meet their commitments, under international agreements and requirements outlined in US law, including dismantling the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure, combating corruption, stopping anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement, and recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American from Florida, said that as long as the Palestinian leaders receive unconditional aid they have no reason to change their ways and be committed to peace.
“So long as Palestinian leaders keep being financially rewarded by the U.S. unconditionally, they will have zero reason to change their ways and truly commit to peace. It is long past time to hold Ramallah accountable,” she said.
She stressed that funds are continuing to flow into Ramallah despite reports indicating that corruption among the Palestinian leadership is increasing.
In 2006 Ros-Lehtinen, who represents a district with a large Jewish population, authored the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, which conditioned US assistance to the Palestinian leadership "upon compliance that it renounce and combat violent extremism, abide by its existing agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist."
AFP, Reuters contributed to the report