U.S. 'Concerned' About Sustainability of Palestinian Institutions

State Department spokeswoman: A strong Palestinian Authority is in the interest of both the Palestinians and the Israelis.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Tuesday that the U.S. is concerned about the condition of the Palestinian Authority institutions, which was highlighted in the report prepared by Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to be presented Wednesday at a donor meeting on Palestinian aid in Brussels. The report claims that the Palestinian Authority is not sufficiently stable to meet the standards of a well-functioning state.

"We are concerned about the fact that we haven't been able to provide full funding," Nuland said. "We want to continue to work together as a Quartet community on how we can improve the long-term sustainability of Palestinian institution-building projects and how the Palestinian Authority can get stronger in meeting the full range of civil and security needs of their people now and in the future. So this is something that we need to work on together. We think it's in the interest of Palestinians. It's in the interest of Israelis".

But in Congress, there are still questions raised about the aid: earlier on Tuesday at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), asked United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah to provide written response on the Obama Administrations request for $147 million assistance to the Palestinian Authority. 

Among the arguments utilized is that Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] needs to be supported because hes all we have..  However the Administration is not demanding that Abu Mazen return to the negotiation table with Israel without preconditions, nor that he stop his unilateral statehood scheme at the UN," Rep. Ros-Lehtinen said. The Administration also says we need to help rebuild the Palestinian economy, this at a time when our economy is facing serious challenges and Americans are suffering".

Ros-Lehtinen told Shah there are expenditures that the Congress can agree with - such as water, health and food programs. However, there are others that Congress finds difficult to justify as advancing U.S. national security interests or in assisting our ally and friend Israel.  In this respect, if you could justify, for example, the $2.9 million for trade facilitation, $4.5 million for tourism promotion, and $8.1 million for road construction.  Specifically, I would ask that you justify a total of $26.4 million in reconstruction and recovery for Hamas-run Gaza?"

Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad AP 10.9.2010