U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday urged Congress not to cut security aid to the Palestinian Authority, AFP reported.
“I will certainly underscore publicly again our strong preference that aid not be cut, particularly aid for the security forces,” Clinton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
She added, “I would hope as the Congress considers these issues that we will consult closely and that there be a real recognition that we don't want unintended consequences.”
Clinton warned that cutting the funding to the Palestinian Authority could strengthen the Hamas terror group, which controls Gaza.
“We certainly don’t want the collapse of the Palestinian Authority and a vacuum that could then be filled by radicals like Hamas,” she said.
Congress recently froze $200 million in economic aid to the Palestinian Authority. The freeze came in response to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ unilateral bid for statehood at the United Nations, but the aid that was frozen was not security funding, AFP noted.
While the United States opposes the effort for UN statehood, the Obama administration has been lobbying Congress to unblock the money.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta criticized the Congressional move several weeks ago, saying, “The administration opposes holding these funds from the Palestinians. This is a critical time and it is not a time to withhold those funds.”
A few months ago, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate passed resolutions backing the suspension of funds to the PA should it pursue its bid for a unilateral declaration of statehood.