Washington, Sept. 14 - Congressional Republicans questioned American funding of the Palestinian Authority at a committee hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee today.
“Despite decades of assistance totaling billions of dollars, if a Palestinian State were declared today, it would be neither democratic nor peaceful nor willing to negotiate with Israel,” Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said in her written opening statement.
“By providing the Palestinians with $2.5 billion over the last five years, the U.S. has only rewarded and reinforced their bad behavior,” she added.
American and European diplomats are scrambling to return the Palestinian and Israelis to peace negotiations before the Palestinian Authority says it will unilaterally ask the U.N. for a vote on Palestinian statehood. Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas is due to address the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 23.
The United States has vowed to veto a Palestinian request for U.N. membership in the Security Council. But the Palestinians have an automatic majority of Islamic and so-called “non-aligned” states in the General Assembly, whose resolutions have symbolic value but are not binding.
Steve Chabot (R-OH) told the hearing that by skipping negotiations and going to the United Nations, the Palestinians could face severe cuts.
“If the Palestinians continue on their current path, the question before this Congress will not be what portion of our aid will be cut, but rather what portion will remain,” he said in his opening remarks.
Ros-Lehtinen has, in recent days, threatened to cut off aid to the Palestinians and reduce donations to the U.N
Yet many of the panelists testifying at the hearing said that while they opposed the Palestinian campaign, cutting aid to the Palestinian Authority in response to their U.N. efforts may not make sense, as Israel’s security strategy depends on the close cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security forces.
“I am not convinced that a reflexive decision to cut off assistance to the Palestinians is the best possible response,” longtime Arab-Israeli analyst David Makovsky said in his written remarks. “Rather, in considering future aid levels for the Palestinians, we should consider the totality of the effect of that aid.”