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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

US foreign aid to the 'Palestinians' is out of control

Alexander Joffe gives a detailed description of how US aid to the 'Palestinians' has lost all checks and balances by means of rights of waiver given to the President. His conclusion is scathing.
In fact, the legislative system of appropriations and oversight matters very little when it comes to U.S. aid to the Palestinians: the system of foreign aid permits the president to independently "certify" or "waive" requirements introduced by Congress. It demonstrates the extent to which U.S. aid to the Palestinians is an instrument of Executive policy rather than an altruistic enterprise authorized by the Legislative branch. Of course, such methods are not unique to the Palestinian case. Congress permits presidential waivers on everything from Azerbaijan's blockage of Nagorno-Karabagh to the use of child soldiers by Chad, Congo, Sudan and Yemen.

But the extent to which foreign aid to the Palestinians is a political tool of the Executive may be in a class by itself: Western and Palestinian supporters of continued aid routinely offer at least two scenarios that would unfold should aid be withdrawn or reduced: "radicalization" and "humanitarian crises." In effect the Executive branch is blackmailed.

Legislation proposed in Congress to limit or condition funds to the Palestinian Authority or UNRWA are largely meaningless in this light. The "UNRWA Humanitarian Accountability Act," for example, offered by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in 2010, demanded that UNRWA not be used by or support Palestinian terrorists. But like the appropriations bills described above, it offers the Executive branch an out by requiring only "a written determination by the Secretary of State, based on all information available after diligent inquiry, and transmitted to the appropriate congressional committees along with a detailed description of the factual basis therefore." Such a statement is a foregone conclusion. The mechanisms for Congress to review results independently, hearings, reports from Congressional staff, the Congressional Research Service, and the Government Accountability Office, have no weight except in the politics of the next appropriations cycle.

Aid the Palestinians is a microcosm of the larger question of how U.S. foreign aid works. Now that Hamas will evidently join Fatah in a Palestinian Authority poised to declare statehood and request vast additional support, creating genuine Congressional oversight -- with teeth -- should be addressed once again.
Read the whole thing.

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