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      State Department: More Money Should be Freed to PA

      State Department welcomes decision to release $40 million to the PA, but says additional funding should be released.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 12/30/2011, 5:12 AM

      The U.S. State Department welcomed on Thursday Congress’ decision to release $40 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority, but said that additional funding should be released.

      “We have been working with Congress for some time, because we don’t think it's in U.S. national interests to keep this money frozen,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was quoted by AFP as having told reporters.

      She added, however, “We will continue to work with Congress when they come back in session to secure additional funding for these programs, because we think they’re important. We think they aid in stability and security and development for the Palestinian people. That’s in our interest, it’s in their interest and we believe it’s also in Israel’s interest.”

      On Wednesday, American lawmakers announced they have freed up a little more than 20 percent of $187 million in U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority, which was frozen after the PA submitted its unilateral bid for United Nations membership.

      Members of Congress have made available $40 million in economic and humanitarian funding for the PA, the State Department said. The money is administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

      The Obama administration had been urging lawmakers to release the money, claiming it contributes to the PA's stability and to Israeli security.