U.S. to Lift PA Funding Freeze -- in Judea and Samaria

The U.S. is planning to end its embargo against funding and other aid to the Palestinian Authority – in Judea and Samaria. Gaza is not included.

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Hana Levi Julian,

The United States is expected to push Israel and the Palestinian Authority hard and fast this week toward America’s goal five years ago to establish a PA state, now that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah terrorist faction is clearly divided from Hamas.

U.S. Consul General Jacob Walles left no doubt when speaking to reporters on Sunday that his government intended to move ahead to strengthen whatever control over the PA Abbas has managed to retain in the wake of the civil war.

The new emergency PA government installed by Abbas in Ramallah (north of Jerusalem) is expected to receive an infusion of American funding and other support, possibly within the next few days.

“This government is going to receive the full support of the United States,” said Walles, “very quickly both diplomatically and also economically.”

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to announce resumption of funding to the PA, said American sources, sometime during Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s visit to Washington this week.

U.S. Hoping to Head Off a 3-State Solution
“It is true now that [the PA chairman’s government] does not have a great ability to influence events in Gaza,” admitted Walles in Jerusalem on Sunday. He said that the U.S. would, however, continue to include Gaza in the working definition of the PA entity, at least for now.

The Consul-General added that the U.S. will not abandon Gaza’s 1.8 million PA residents, although he also acknowledged that the issue of helping them had become more complicated since the Hamas takeover of the area.

“But I think ways can be found in order to ensure that this (helping Gaza residents) happens. We don’t want to see the Palestinian people in Gaza suffer any more as a result of what’s happened there," he said.

The American official also said his government eventually hopes to work with Israel to persuade the Arabs of Gaza to abandon their support of the Hamas terrorist network, but realizes this might have to be a long-term project.

It is clear that Abbas has yet to prove his ability to control the terrorist factions that permeate the population in PA-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria.

“We’re not going to lose sight of the need to begin a process between Israel and the Palestinians to resolve the fundamental problems,” he said, “but before we can do that, I think we need to get the house in order first.”

More to the point, he added, the new PA government would first have to “ensure law and order and security in the West Bank.”

PM Olmert Ready to Take More Risks For Peace
Prime Minister Omert was upbeat about the results of the civil war when speaking to Jewish leaders in New York Sunday night, saying, "I personally believe that under the new circumstances, with a much greater cooperation between us and the Palestinian government, we can take perhaps more risks than we took in the past."

Olmert explicitly stated that Israel can now hand over to the PA up to half of the $700 million in tax revenues that has been withheld since PA residents elected Hamas to become the ruling faction in their government.

"We will defreeze monies that we kept under our control because we didn't want these monies to be taken by Hamas to be used as part of a terrorist action," promised the prime minister.

Fatah forces surrendered some 50,000 weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and other materiel to Hamas terrorists in Gaza last week after Abbas' loyalists lost the PA civil war.