Negotiations underway for release of US aid to Palestinian territories

There are indications the U.S. Congress may soon relinquish its hold on a development aid package — or at least free up more funds — for the Palestinian territories, Washington insiders have said.

Congressional staffers said there are ongoing negotiations for the release of at least $70 million of the infrastructure and health aid package that two Republican congresswomen put on hold in August 2011, the Huffington Post reports. The freeze at the time was an attempt to discourage the Palestinian Authority’s plan to seek recognition at the United Nations.

Some $40 million of the aid package was released in December 2011. The remaining $147 million, however, continues to be blocked by Republican Reps. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Kay Granger of Texas, head of the House Appropriations subcommittee on State and foreign operations.

The $70 million under negotiation will be used to replenish the budgets of nongovernmental organizations that are likely to close down without additional financing, the Huffington Post says.

The Department of State, however, is reportedly not satisfied with this proposed partial release. A Democratic aide indicated the State might seek other means to push for the release of the entire aid package, the Huffington Post says. Meanwhile, other staffers with knowledge of the talks said Granger may choose to relinquish her hold on the package, leaving Ros-Lehtinen to fend off pressure on her own.

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About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.