The U.S. State Departmentseeks to persuade lawmakers not to slash U.S. aid for the Palestinian Authority, despite the Palestine’s bid for membership at the United Nations and specialized U.N. agencies.
Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress have said they are ready to cut funding to the Palestinians, which amounted to $550 million in fiscal 2011, as a way to punish them for pursuing statehood outside the peace process.
The State Department has already halted its funding for UNESCO, following the Palestine’s admission into the agency last week, citing a standing legislation.
“Congress should be aware of the potential second and third order effects of cutting off assistance to Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority,” Andrew Shapiro, U.S. assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, said Nov. 4 before an audience at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as quoted by “The Cable” blog. “We must ask ourselves, if we are no longer their partner, who will fill the void? We must think about the other potential partners that could fill the space left behind, and that should give us pause.”
Shapiro said the State is in talks with Capitol Hill on how best to provide assistance to the Palestinians.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to reach an agreement with Capitol Hill that preserves our interests,” he added.
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