To which I say “it’s about time!” – both about the US cutting off their aid after warning Mahmoud Abbas not to go ahead with his claim for statehood at the UN, and about the Arabs finally getting around to helping their poor benighted brothers – although I’m not going to hold my breath on that one.
The Palestinians were predictably, and I suppose understandably, outraged at the US announcement that they were going to cut off $200 million in aid, calling it collective punishment.
The freeze on funds, which has been unpublicised, was reportedly put in place in August, ahead of Mr Abbas’s planned bid at the UN on September 20. The funds were said to have been allocated earlier in the financial year which ends today.
“It is another kind of collective punishment which is going to harm the needs of the public without making any positive contribution,” Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib told The Independent.
He told the newspaper: “It is ironic to be punished for going to the United Nations”.
In a sign of dithering and possible internal division, Israel is being asked to continue its aid:
The Obama administration is reportedly negotiating with Congressional leaders over unlocking the aid. The White House has reportedly also urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to help keep aid flowing to the Palestinians.
Writing in the Commentator, Raheem Kassam asserts that the United States are entirely correct in cutting of this aid tot he Palestinians:
if you attempt to circumvent peace negotiations, you can and should no longer benefit from the aid tied to such deals. It will take a serious effort to be certain that the Palestinian people know that is it their leadership who sold them up the river on this one.
While the freeze in aid has taken place much to the chagrin of the Obama administration, it can be argued that Congress is tearing apart the realist chapter of chequebook diplomacy which argues that even if negotiations are completely ignored by one side, the geopolitical implications of withdrawing aid still argue for caution.
On June 28th of this year, the US Senate passed resolution 185, affirming the commitment to a negotiated solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, insisting that a unilateral statehood bid “demonstrates absence of a good faith commitment to peace negotiations, and will have implications for continued United States aid.”
Abbas and his ministers therefore cannot even insist that punitive measures have been taken without warning. His grandstanding on the international stage last month has, literally, cost his people dearly.
In response, the Palestinians have defiantly announced that their Arab brothers will come to their aid to fill in the gap:
A senior Fatah official has strongly criticised the “unbelievable” decision of the US Congress to withhold nearly $200m (£130m) in aid to the Palestinians but insisted yesterday that he expected Arab countries to make up any shortfall.
Mohammed Shtayyeh, a member of the Palestinian delegation to the UN last month, claimed that Muslim countries had promised to make up for any cut in funds made in retaliation against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s bid for recognition.
As I said, I’ll believe it when I see it. The Arabs with their billions of petro-dollars have never come to the aid of the Palestinians either financially or materially. Indeed they withhold their funds and refuse to allocate territory in their countries to house the Palestinian refugees who reside there. Added to that, they actively abuse those Palestinians, refusing to grant them citizenship, residency rights or work permits.
But of course the world hears nary a word about this because after all, it is not the Israelis who are oppressing those poor refugees, so that’s all right then.