U.S. Congress Cut of Palestinian Aid Won't Affect Statehood Bid, PA Official Says

Referring to reported $200 million fund cut, Palestinian Minister Ali Jarbawi says PA was working toward ending its dependence on foreign aid by 2013.

A move by U.S. Congress to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority will not hinder Palestinian readiness for statehood, a top PA official said on Monday.

On Saturday, U.K’s Independent newspaper reported that Congress had blocked nearly $200m in aid to the Palestinians over their bid for recognition at the United Nations.

Palestinians in Ramallah September 20, 2011 (Reuters)

The aid, which was destined for projects related to food aid, health care, and state building efforts, was to have been transferred to the Palestinian Authority during the U.S. fiscal year that ends today, according to the report.

However, following what the Independent described as an “unpublicized block” imposed on funding to the Palestinians since August this year, in response to the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN, the remainder of the aid allocated to the Palestinian Authority for the current financial year will not be transferred.

Speaking to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA on Monday, Palestinian Minister of Planning and Administrative Development Ali Jarbawi said that the Congress move would not affect Palestinian readiness for statehood.

“The Palestinian Authority is now fully ready to embody the reality of a state after its success in building and developing the institutions of a state,” Jarbawi told WAFA.

On the subject of the economic crisis plaguing the Palestinian Authority, and its possible effect on the Palestinians' readiness for statehood, Jarbawi stressed the need to separate the PA's financial condition and the readiness of its institutions.

The official also said that the Palestinians were working toward ending their dependence on foreign aid by 2013, adding that the PA still needed aid to help bolster development projects.

Jarbawi's comments following a statement by the U.S. State Department referring to the Congress move to cut PA aid, saying that the State Department remained "in close and ongoing contact with Congress to ensure continued U.S. support for Palestinian institution building, which we strongly believe is critical to preparing the ground for a successful and stable peace."

"U.S. Congress has generally been supportive of this dual track approach: vigorous integrated efforts on both negotiating and institution building tracks," the statement added, saying that " institution-building work that has occurred with the help of our assistance has been vital to establishing and strengthening the institutions of a future Palestinian state."

The United States, according to the statement, urged "both parties to resume negotiations without preconditions, on the timetable proposed by the Quartet, as the best means to advance their interests, resolve their differences, and fulfill the President’s two-state vision."