GOP lawmaker: Obama must 'immediately' cut aid to the Palestinians

GOP lawmaker: Obama must 'immediately' cut aid to the Palestinians
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The Obama administration must immediately cut aid to the Palestinian Authority (P.A.), Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said Monday.

Recent legal action by the Palestinians should have triggered a U.S. law that requires the suspension of aid to the P.A., said Ros-Lehtinen, who is the chairwoman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee.

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“The administration must immediately enforce the law and cut funding to the PA. By blatantly ignoring the law’s language and purposefully misinterpreting Congress’ intent, the Obama administration is only emboldening Abu Mazen to continue his campaign at the ICC and elsewhere and is undermining peace between Palestinians and the democratic Jewish State of Israel in the process,” she said.

Abu Mazen refers to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The spending bill Congress passed last December contains language that could halt U.S. aid to the Palestinians, Ros-Lehtinen noted.

It says no funds for the Economic Support Fund can be made available if the P.A. obtains full membership at the United Nations without a negotiated agreement with Israel. The bill also says funding would be withheld if the Palestinians initiate an ICC investigation or actively support an investigation that involves alleged Israeli war crimes against Palestinians.

Ros-Lehtinen’s comments come just days after two other key lawmakers warned that Palestinian actions against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) would lead to a suspension of U.S. assistance, which amounts to roughly $400 million annually.

On Thursday, the P.A. submitted evidence to the ICC of alleged Israeli war crimes in an effort to speed up an ICC inquiry into abuses that might have occurred during last summer’s conflict in Gaza.

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State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said the administration doesn't believe the law's restrictions have been triggered. 
 
"We continue to provide critical assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and to consult with Congress on these assistance programs. As you are aware, U.S. law includes certain restrictions on assistance to the Palestinian Authority," he said. "We will continue to monitor the situation to ensure we are in compliance with relevant legislation. That said, at this point, we do not consider the relevant restrictions on assistance to the Palestinians to have been triggered."