Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Blog

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s decision to limit the distribution of Palestinian aid. In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Ros-Lehtinen the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, blocked the disbursement of half the funds budgeted for Palestine, and set strict limitations on the remaining portion, precluding its use for items such as, “assistance and recovery...road constructions…tourism promotion… [and] scholarships for Palestinian students.”

Last week, Secretary Clinton overruled Ros-Lehtinen’s hold and agreed to disburse the full $147 million package. The decision cited the need for "critical support to the Palestinian people and those leaders seeking to combat extremism within their society and build a more stable future. Without funding, our programs risk cancellation."

It’s a rare move for any administration to make, but signals an increasing awareness of the important role that aid has played in securing American interests among the Palestinians, who have grown increasingly disillusioned with Washington’s failure to act as a neutral broker. It’s too early to say what effect this will have on the peace process, or even on the chilled relations between the Palestinian Authority and the Obama administration, but it’s almost certain to cause a political firestorm here at home, and Americans for Peace Now has asked some great questions about the implications of this decision. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as the situation develops.

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