Aid Package Sidesteps P.A.

By Ori Nir

Published May 13, 2005, issue of May 13, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers passed an emergency aid package for the Palestinians this week, but some Jewish organizations and Palestinian activists are lamenting the measure as a missed opportunity to support Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Only about $140 million of the $200 million requested by the Bush administration will end up going to development projects in Gaza and the West Bank. About $50 million of the remaining money is slated to help Israel build high-tech border-crossings along the pre-1967 border, with another $5 million set aside to pay for ongoing auditing to make sure that the funds are spent appropriately.

And, in a development that startled many Capitol Hill observers, $2 million is earmarked for Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, to support healthcare services that its two hospitals in Jerusalem provide to Palestinians.

Adding to the frustration of those backing the aid was the decision by Congress to ban direct aid to the P.A.

“This sends the wrong message to Mahmoud Abbas,” said Seymour Reich, a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and now president of the Israel Policy Forum. “It undermines his leadership and we should all be concerned about that.”

The forum, along with Americans for Peace Now, aggressively lobbied Congress to allocate the full $200 million and to give President Bush the discretion to disburse some of the funds directly to Abbas.

The aid package is part of the $82 billion 2005 emergency supplemental spending bill that mainly provides funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was approved by the House of Representatives last week and by the Senate on Tuesday.

The legislation clearly states that none of the money should be spent on “direct financial support for the Palestinian Authority,” though the bill permits Bush to waive the restriction for national security purposes.

The bill allocate funds directly to two non-governmental organizations: Hadassah and Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem, a small Catholic maternity hospital that will receive $3.5 million.

The inclusion of Hadassah as a beneficiary in the bill surprised many in Washington. Hadassah officials claim they were caught off guard, and credited Republican Eric Cantor, the deputy majority whip in the House. Marla Gilson, who directs Hadassah’s Washington Action Office, explained: “I had basically made the comment to Rep. Cantor’s staff that it seemed ironic to me that we were giving $200 million to the Palestinian Authority, while there were many [non-Palestinian] humanitarian organizations that also give services in the area, and we were one of them.”

The bill does not state clearly how the money for Hadassah should be used.

The allocation was criticized by Ghaleb Darabya, who handles political and congressional affairs at the PLO Mission in Washington.

“Money for Hadassah, which is in Israel, not in Palestine — that’s not right,” Darabya said. “This is money that’s supposed to support Palestinian institutions.”

Cantor defended the aid, telling the Forward: “The hospitals operated by Hadassah serve as a bridge between Israeli and Palestinian people by taking care of innocent victims of the scourge of terrorism.”

For the most part, Palestinians expressed their frustration quietly, both in the West Bank and in Washington. “After all,” one pro-Palestinian activist in Washington said, “we are getting almost $150 million, and we are supposed to get another $150 million in next year’s foreign aid bill.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.