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Ros-Lehtinen Caves on PA Funds

Top GOP lawmaker releases hundreds of millions to the PLO - accepting the administration's assertion it was a matter of 'national security.'
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 11/7/2011, 9:05 PM

The Palestinian Authority will receive some $200 million in frozen US aid dollars after top House Republican Ileana Ros-Letinen ended her brief hold on the money.

Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, informed the Obama administration she would release $50 million in economic support funds for the Palestinian Security Forces and $148 million in other assistance.
 
Ros-Lehtinen cited the administration's certification that payment of the funds were in the 'national security interests of the United States' as well as word that the government of Israel did not object to the assistance.

Some view Jerusalem's silence on the matter, on the heels of Jerusalem freezing tax revenues to the PA, as reason enough to question the US administration's assertion that the resumption of funds is in line with Israeli interests.

Many nationalist politicians in Israel say the Obama administration is using its promised veto of the PA bid at the UN Security Council to leverage Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu into not pursuing Israel's true interests. The implied threat of not following through with the promised veto, they say, is effectively 'holding a gun' to Israel's head. 

Ros-Lehtinen had blocked the funds in late August - shortly before PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas submitted his application for statehood recognition based on pre-1967 lines to the UN Security Council the following month.

At the time the lawmaker placed an "informational hold" on the money, seeking explanatory material from the administration. The PA pursued the move - and subsequent unilateral moves at the world body - despite strong objections from the United States and Israel.
 
The PA has received roughly $500 million a year from the US alone in recent years. No explanation of how funds to the Palestinian Liberation Organization benefits the 'national security of the United States' were offered.
 
However, funds to Ramallah begin to flow despite Abbas continuing to be at loggerheads with the Obama administration over his insistance on making unilateral moves - as well as his seeking rapproachment with Hamas - defined as a terror organization by both Israel and the US.
 
US officials also recently stopped $60 million in aid to UNESCO after it admitted the PA as a full member, and have promised to freeze funds to any other UN agency that admits the PA. 
 
Ros-Lehtinen said she opposes any attempts to change US law that requires a freeze of American funds to any UN entity that gives membership to the PLO. 
 
"That is the right policy, and it must continue in order to deter other UN entities from following in UNESCO's footsteps," Ros-Lehtinen said.
 
But funds for the PLO are flowing despite Ramallah's continuing to butt heads with the Obama administration, leading critics to question why the administration's 1,000 page brief was accepted at face value. 

Another question being asked is why hearings were not convened to examine the veracity of claims that US national security interests are genuinely served by funding the PLO - which uses US monies to pay pensions to terrorists in Israeli prisons and grants to released terrorists.