Admin to Continue 'Essential' Palestinian Aid Despite Next Statehood Bid
"We continue to make clear to the Palestinian Authority leadership at all levels ...that we continue to oppose any efforts to advance their cause through the U.N. before they have had a full settlement with Israel," State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said Wednesday. "That's not the right sequence, and it's not going to lead to peace, it's not going to lead to two states living side-by-side in security. So that's the message that we continue to give."
When pressed on whether funding was at risk, Nuland said, "You know that our Congress has been strong on these issues; we have been pretty strong on these issues. There are a number of legislative things on the books, of which the Palestinians are well aware."
But yesterday, Nuland was asked at the daily press briefing about the $200 million in budget support that usually arrives at the Palestinian Authority in June. She said that the administration is "still working with the Congress on some of the 2012 money, but the 2011 money did move forward."
Today, the State Department released a statement confirming that $200 million in direct support to the Palestinians did make it to Ramallah for FY 2011, and they are "working with the Congress to ensure continued U.S. support for the Palestinians, including $200 million in direct budget support this fiscal year (2012)."
"Our view remains that our assistance to the Palestinian people is an essential part of the U.S. commitment to a negotiated two-state solution for Palestinians and Israelis, promoting a comprehensive peace in the Middle East," Nuland continued in the statement. "It is in the interest not only of the Palestinians, but of Israel and the U.S. as well, to ensure these efforts continue as they help to build a more democratic, stable and secure region."
The Palestinian Authority has expressed its intention to first be admitted as a non-member observer state at the UN, which needs a simple majority at the General Assembly. By improving PLO chances of joining committees, the Palestinians would press forward with a full statehood bid on an unknown timetable.
The administration threatened to veto Abbas' bid at the UN last September. The following month, Congress blocked $200 million in aid as a response to the statehood application -- aid that was set free by Obama's order this spring.