The United States plans to restore direct civilian and
security aid to the Palestinian Authority which had been cut off during the conflict with Israel.
U.S. officials said the Bush administration plans to
transfer several hundred million dollars to the PA in an effort to
ensure development of both Palestinian civilian and security sectors. They
said the plan seeks to ensure that the PA will not use the aid to help
PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas requested the restoration of direct U.S.
aid during his meeting with President George Bush in Jordan last month,
officials said. The United States cut off help to the PA in the first months
of the Palestinian insurgency war with Israel, which began in September
For the last two years, the United States directed funds to the
Palestinians through the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, Middle East Newsline reported.
Congress has restricted U.S. aid and linked any help to the PA to an end to
the war against Israel.
Officials said the plan would be discussed with Congress as well as U.S.
security agencies such as the CIA. They said direct U.S. aid is meant to
bolster the Abbas government and reduce the influence of Hamas.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Tuesday that the PA
has carried out reforms that largely ensure the transparency of funds. He
said any U.S. aid would be directed through PA Finance Minister Salam
"The finances are now under the stewardship of a new finance minister
and now largely transparent and therefore accountable to the Palestinian
people," Boucher said. So, at this point, we haven't made any decision about
direct aid to the Palestinian Authority. But the Palestinian Authority has
requested such assistance, and it's under consideration. If we decided to go
forward with this, we'd also have to consult first with our Congress."
Officials said much of the proposed U.S. aid would help rebuild
Palestinian security forces. They said other aid would promote development
and improve social services meant to reduce the influence of Hamas's large
charity and school network in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.