Finally, some sense from Washington. By Aaron Klein for WorldNetDaily.com, with thanks to D. C. Watson:
JERUSALEM — The U.S. Congress yesterday blocked the transfer of $86 million to security forces associated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party following the objection of several lawmakers.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last month told reporters the U.S. is working with Fatah to create a unified Palestinian security force. The Bush administration had pledged $86.4 million to strengthen the Fatah forces, including Force 17, Abbas’ security detail, which also serves as de facto police units in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
But yesterday, Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., who also heads the foreign appropriations subcommittee, informed the State Department the funding pledge required clarifications.
According to congressional sources, Lowey acted at the behest of her Republican colleague, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the ranking minority member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Only committee chairmen are allowed to place information-related holds on foreign operations funding.
Ros-Lehtinen’s office had raised a number of questions regarding Fatah militias and whether some of the money could be used to support terrorism.
The move comes after Hamas and Fatah last week signed a unity government that includes a clause for Hamas’ 20,000-member Special Forces unit to be incorporated into the Palestinian government’s main militias, which are controlled by Fatah. But according to congressional sources, Ros-Lehtinen’s objections preceded the unity government deal by several weeks.
While the aid is being temporarily blocked, it wasn’t immediately clear if U.S. weapons would continue to be transferred to Fatah. The U.S. has been regularly shipping convoys of weapons to Fatah security forces in Gaza and the West Bank.
WND reported the U.S. in recent weeks transferred 7,000 assault rifles and more than 1 million rounds of ammunition to Fatah militias.