World Tribune.com

Palestinians reject anti-terror pledge

Special to World Tribune.com
MIDDLE EAST NEWSLINE
Monday, June 14, 2004

RAMALLAH The Palestinian Authority has again rejected a U.S. demand that Palestinian non-governmental organizations sign a pledge not to cooperate with those on the State Department's terrorist list.

The Palestinian Legislative Council, dominated by the ruling Fatah Party of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, rejected a demand by the U.S. Agency for International Development that Palestinian NGOs sign a commitment not to engage with individuals or groups deemed as terrorist. The demand was first relayed by Washington in 2003.

The State Department has deemed several Palestinian insurgency groups as terrorist. They include the Fatah-dominated Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Western NGOs that operate in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have signed the pledge. But 30 Palestinian NGOs have refused to cooperate, saying they would thus deem resistance groups as terrorists.

[In an unrelated development, the PLC has called for a criminal investigation into charges that Palestinian companies connected to several PA ministers were importing cement for Israeli contractors that were building the security fence along the West Bank. The Palestinian ministers were said to have received bribes to import the cement from Egypt to Israel.]

Azmi Shueibi, chairman of the PLC Economic Committee, said the U.S. demand violated Palestinian law that bans Palestinian organizations from accepting aid linked to political conditions. Shueibi said the PA was concerned that other countries would follow the U.S. example.

"The institutions contacted U.S. AID to express their rejection of the conditions and push for their cancellation for several reasons, including the vague U.S. stance regarding the Palestinian struggle and differences regarding the definition of the term 'terrorism,'" Shueibi said.

Officials said several Palestinian NGOs accepted the U.S. AID conditions, but did not identify the groups. They said PA officials have tried for the last eight months to persuade all NGOs to reject the U.S. demands.

The PA has also appealed to U.S. AID to drop the anti-terror clause, officials said. But they said the efforts failed.


Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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