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Emergency Aid Package For Palestinian Authority Benefits Israel As Well

Congress passed a $200 million emergency aid package for the Palestinians aimed at promoting development projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In response to congressional concern that the money would be mispent, the legislation states that none of the money should be spent on “direct financial support for the Palestinian Authority.” Past U.S. aid also has been directed to nongovernmental organizations rather than the PA because of concerns about corruption under the regime of Yasser Arafat. Supporters of the aid package hoped it would be paid directly to the PA to help bolster the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas. Though not in the original legislation, a waiver was later introduced to allow President Bush to waive the restriction for national security purposes.

Of the $200 million, $50 million is for Israel to build high-tech border crossings along the pre-1967 border, $2 million is earmarked for Hadassah to support healthcare services that its hospitals in Jerusalem provide to Palestinians, and $5 million is allocated for auditing how the funds are spent.

The breakdown would include:

  • Palestinian agriculture and agribusiness production and marketing — $15,000,000
  • Trade promotion and capacity building — $24,000,000
  • Home construction financing — $1,000,000
  • Job creation, with an emphasis on construction of schools and community centers — $20,000,000
  • Improved flow of people and goods into Israel — $50,000,000
  • Roads and water — $50,000,000
  • Democratic reform and the rule of law — $16,000,000
  • Community policing — $3,000,000
  • Education, including vocational training — $8,000,000
  • Health care and food assistance — $13,000,000

The aid package, part of an $82 billion 2005 emergency supplemental spending bill that mainly provides funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.