A senior U.S. official has defended the country’s financial assistance for the state-building activities in the Palestinian territories in light of an influential lawmaker’s remark that U.S. aid over the past years has “rewarded” the Palestinian territories’ “bad behavior.”
“By providing the Palestinians with $2.5 billion over the last five years, the U.S. has only rewarded and reinforced their bad behavior,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwomen of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said at a recent committee hearing.
Asked to comment on Ros-Lehtinen’s statement, U.S. Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner recognized the representative’s insight but added that “our belief, our position, has been that this money, this assistance, has helped build the kinds of institutions that will help in an eventual Palestinian state. So we believe it’s been very worthwhile and should continue.”
Both Ros-Lehtinen’s and Toner’s comments come as the Palestinian Authority is preparing to seek recognition of an independent Palestinian state at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, USA. There has been international pressure on Palestinian leaders to defer its plans and some members of the U.S. Congress have threatened to suspend U.S. aid to the territories if the leaders push through with their plans.
The Obama administration has earlier announced it would veto any statehood bid that Palestinian leaders would present to the U.N. Security Council.
Meanwhile, Israel, which is also pressuring the Palestinian Authority to drop its planned bid, has appealed to the international community not to suspend its aid to territories should the plan pushes through.
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