United States cutting economic aid for the Palestinian Authority because of 'unhelpful actions' by the Palestinians, says American diplomat.
By Ben Ariel
First Publish: 10/25/2015, 1:51 AM
President Barack Obama and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas
Issam Rimawi/Flash 90
The United States is cutting economic aid for the Palestinian Authority (PA), partly because of "unhelpful actions" by the Palestinians, an American diplomat said on Saturday, according to AFP.
The Al-Monitor news website had earlier said the State Department intends to reduce aid for the PA-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria and Gaza in fiscal 2016 from $370 million to $290 million.
A State Department official, travelling with Secretary of State John Kerry on a trip to Amman, confirmed there would be a cut.
"The decision to reduce assistance to the Palestinian Authority was made this past spring," he told reporters, according to AFP.
"There were several factors contributing to this decision, including unhelpful actions taken by the Palestinians and constraints on our global assistance budget," the official added
The cut was not directly linked to the wave of violence that is currently gripping Israel and the PA, the official said.
The source added, however, "we have made clear our concern about inflammatory rhetoric over these past few weeks".
Al-Monitor had said the cut followed mounting criticism in Congress about Palestinian incitement.
On Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a bipartisan resolution condemning anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement within the PA.
The resolution urges the State Department to “monitor and publish information on all official incitement by the Palestinian Authority against Jews and the State of Israel.”
Kerry was in Amman on Saturday where he held talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas on how to end the latest violence.
In recent years there have been calls and attempts by American lawmakers to halt aid to the PA.
The last time this issue made headlines was when the PA unilaterally applied to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Obama administration indicated at the time it was reviewing its annual $440 million aid package to the PA because of the decision.
Republican Senator Rand Paul later introduced a bill that would immediately halt aid to the PA until it halts its effort to join the ICC.
In September of 2011, a $192 million aid package was frozen by Congress after the PA submitted a failed unilateral bid for United Nations membership.
In April of 2012, Obama bypassed a Congress block and signed a waiver declaring that aid to the Palestinian Authority is “important to the security interests of the United States.