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PA Unshod By US Aid Freeze

PA officials slammed the freeze of $200 million in aid by US lawmakers while protesters hurl shoes at US diplomats in Ramallah.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 10/4/2011, 8:47 PM

Palestinian Officials in Ramallah blasted Tuesday a decision by US lawmakers to freeze a bloc of $200 million in aid to their fiscally teetering apparatus.

The officials’ angry rhetoric came amid a hail of shoes and anti-American slogans on the streets of Ramallah by demonstrators who wished to vent their fury on American diplomats visiting the PA seat, the Maan news agency reported.

Police reportedly kept the protesters well out of street-shoeing range from the Ramallah restaurant where the US diplomats hosted an event for graduates and other beneficiaries of US programs.

About 20 well-heeled activists watched by the police had chanted defiant slogans in English, shouting "No to American funding" and "Yes we can -- boycott America", Reuters reported.

Demonstrators also chanted "USAID go home," and "Shame on you" as they became increasingly unshod. 

But despite angry chants by protesters confident they can do without US funds, observers say the move could spell trouble for the Palestinian Liberation Organization's national ambitions.

The US pumps nearly $600 million per annum into PA coffers hoping to advance the Israeli-PA 'peace process' by building a state within a state - with moneys going to security forces, salaries, critical infrastructure, and even pensions for terrorists.

Of particular note, the US has pumped hundreds of millions into training, arming, and underwriting Ramallah's now-40,000 strong paramilitary security force, which has grown beyond the size alotted in the Oslo Accords - to which the US itself is a signatory - leading some Israeli analysts to suggest US administrations have aided and abetted PA officials in undermining the agreement.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet, in a statement issued after its weekly meeting on Tuesday, "expressed hope that the US Congress would reconsider the freezing of aid allocated to the Palestinian National Authority."

"Some parties in the Congress stood not only against the interests of the Palestinian people but also against any possibility of achieving growth for a people under occupation," Economy Minister Hassan Abu Libda told AFP.

US President Barack Obama is said to be lobbying Congress to release the aid despite his vow to give a negative recommendation for PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas' statehood application at the United Nations should it be brought to a vote in the Security Council - but US lawmakers say they have numerous reservations about the PA project that must be addressed before they consider unfreezing the aid.

PA officials say Obama's "veto" threat is a clear indication that Washington was not a genuine "honest broker."