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!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • 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.