Where Are All the PA M-16s?

U.S. Gen. Wm. Ward said he cannot account for thousands of M-16 assault rifles, which Israel gave to the PA. Another official offered no clear way to stop Hamas from getting American aid money.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 8:37 PM

At a Congressional subcommittee hearing of the House Appropriations committee, which is considering a bill that would provide $50 million in direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, Congressman Mark Kirk told special envoy General William Ward, "I worry that I've seen this movie before."

He explained that during the 1990s, Congress relented to pressure from former envoy Dennis Ross and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to give the rifles directly to the PA. "Under a veto threat, the Congress relented... Now, imagine how we felt a year later when we saw those -- when we saw Palestinian policemen using those M-16s to shoot Israelis.... And General Ward, do we know where all these M-16s are? Have we done an audit of all the guns we've already given the Palestinian Authority?"

Ward answered, "No, we've not yet seen the audit. However... that report is supposed to be shared... and I specifically asked, 'Will we or will we not be able to have access to that report?'" Ward did not provide any further answers.

Another official was not able to directly answer a question by another Congressman who asked what would be done with American aid to the PA, which plans to form a coalition with Hamas terrorists. The U.S. has classified Hamas as a terrorist organization and has barred assisting it.

American envoy David Welch was not able to clarify how the American government would deal with the issue.

Congressman Joe Knollenberg pointed out that Hamas has won several local council seats, including all of the seats in the Arab city of Kalkilya, adjacent to Kfar Saba. He asked, "What is the U.S. policy on interacting with Palestinian individuals... who have been elected and who are also members of terrorist organizations like Hamas?"

Welch, unable to give a direct answer, said, "We're trying to work with those realities in such a manner that we don't skip over law or policy."

Another subcommittee witness, James Wolfensohn, the Quartet's special envoy for Gaza, told Congressman Steven Rothman that anti-Semitism is "very limited" at the leadership level. Rothman asked, "But how about the textbooks in the schools?" which describe the entire country of Israel as "Palestine".

Wolfensohn replied, "No. No. Well, that's a separate question." When asked about the Arabs accepting Israel as a Jewish state, he replied, "There are some that would accept it willingly, and there are some that, I need hardly explain to you, don't feel that."