Washington — President Obama waived the U.S. Congress' restriction on providing funds to the Palestinian Authority, informing U.S. lawmakers in an April 25 memorandum that “it is important to the national security interests of the United States” to release the funding.
According to annual U.S. foreign operations appropriations laws, congressionally approved funds for the West Bank and Gaza Strip cannot be given directly to the Palestinian Authority (PA) unless the president submits a waiver to Congress citing national security interests.
Susan Rice, U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, said April 23 that the United States had recently met with representatives of Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union, collectively known as “the Quartet,” and had discussed the importance of fostering continued international support for the PA’s institution-building efforts.
“In order to realize a future where Palestinians live in a sovereign state of their own, we must vigorously support the difficult steps needed to build the institutions and capacities of a future Palestinian state,” Rice said.
“The United States echoes the Quartet's call for continued international support for institution-building by the Palestinian Authority, including for contributions toward the $1.1 billion required to meet the Palestinian Authority’s 2012 recurrent financing requirements,” she said. “This funding is essential to preserve and build on the Palestinian Authority’s institutional gains and to expand economic opportunities for the Palestinian people.”
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters April 11 that the Obama administration believes the funding of Palestinian institutions is important not only so they can provide services to the Palestinian people, but also because “it’s very important to empower moderate politicians within the Palestinian political system and to have them be able to deliver services to the Palestinian people as a way of deterring radicalism.”
Nuland said the Obama administration had informed Congress on April 10 that it intended to move the remainder of its economic and military support funds to the PA that had been allocated for the 2012 fiscal year, which ends in September. She said the amount was approximately $80 million.
Nuland said the $1.1 billion needed to meet the PA’s 2012 funding requirements “incorporates the amount that the U.S. had pledged and that the U.S. is now sending,” and she urged all donors in the international community to “also deliver the money that they have pledged.”
According to an April 4 report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the U.S. government has committed more than $4 billion in assistance to the Palestinians since the establishment of limited Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the mid-1990s.
U.S. assistance to the West Bank and Gaza Strip has averaged more than $600 million annually since 2008, including more than $200 million in direct budgetary assistance and more than $100 million in nonlethal security assistance for the PA in the West Bank, according to CRS. The report added that the United States is also the largest single-state donor to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).