Conditions Placed by the Senate Appropriations Committee Undermine President Abbas and Strengthen the Hands of Extremists

Dear Friends of Brit Tzedek,

You and I understand that times have changed - that the election of President Mahmoud Abbas represents a dramatic transformation of Palestinian politics and greatly expanded possibilities for progress toward peace with Israel.

We need to communicate this message loud and clear to our U.S. Senators, many of whom seem to be under the illusion that little has changed, or, even worse, that President Abbas and his government deserve even less confidence than Yasser Arafat.

On April 6th, the Senate Appropriations Committee joined the House of Representatives in placing unprecedented conditions on the $200 million in emergency supplemental funding the Bush Administration is seeking to assist the Palestinians. In some cases the Senate went even farther in restricting the aid than the House did.

The full Senate is scheduled to vote on this legislation as early as Monday April 11th.  Please send an email and/or call your Senator by early Monday morning and urge him or her to support President Abbas' commitment to non-violence and conciliation by removing these counterproductive conditions from the legislation.

It is hard to imagine any justification for placing any of these unprecedented conditions on aid to President Mahmoud Abbas' administration, let alone the entire set. At this time of renewed hope and progress toward peace, the U.S. must send a wholly different message: a message of strong support for the path of peace and non-violence being pursued by the democratically elected leadership of the Palestinian people.  

Please share this Action Alert with family, friends, and colleagues, and tell them about Brit Tzedek v'Shalom.

B'shalom,

Steve Masters, Chair of Advocacy and Public Policy
Diane Balser, Vice President and Co-Chair of Advocacy and Public Policy

Campaign Expiration Date: April 19, 2005 


Send a letter to the following decision maker(s):
Your Senators

Sample Letter:

Subject: Remove Unnecessary Restrictions Placed on Aid to the Palestinian Authority

Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],

As your constituent and as an American Jew, I am writing to request that you approve the President's $200 million supplemental aid request for the Palestinians without imposing any excessive new conditions.

I understand that the Senate Appropriations Committee has placed unprecedented new conditions on this aid that bear no relationship to ensuring accountability or transparency for the funds. These new requirements - an additional audit (at a cost of over $5 million), onerous new reports on Palestinian reform and the elimination of the President's ability to determine the proper recipients for the aid monies - can not possibly serve the interests of the United States.

At this time of heightened hope and renewed progress toward peace, our country must send a strong message of support and encouragement, both to the Palestinian people and to President Abbas in particular.

Earlier this year you approved an important resolution recognizing that a new day has arrived in American Palestinian relations.

It is unfathomable that such a new era be greeted by the imposition of onerous aid conditions which far exceed any imposed while Yasser Arafat led the Palestinian Authority.

I urge you to fully support this aid package without any additional conditions. Existing law contains sufficient safeguards to ensure accountability and transparency for U.S. foreign aid and President Bush must be able to retain the power traditionally accorded all Presidents to guide U.S. foreign policy according to our national security interests.

Please don't place any barriers in the way of a Palestinian leadership committed to living in peace with the State of Israel.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

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What's At Stake:
The Senate Appropriations Committee placed the following unprecedented conditions on the $200 million aid package to the Palestinians:

  • The Committee included language identical to the House version calling for an onerous new report on Palestinian reform that is totally unrelated to oversight or use of U.S. aid monies.


  • The Committee recommended that $5 million of the aid be used for an outside audit, in addition to the existing audits and reviews already required by U.S. law for all aid to the Palestinians and deemed adequate by Congress to ensure accountability and transparency during the Arafat era.


  • In a positive move, the Committee did restore the Presidential waiver power that had been removed by the House. However, at the same time it stripped the President of the power to designate appropriate recipients for the funds, voting to prevent direct aid to the Palestinian Authority.


  • The Committee broke up the $200 million request into two separate requests - $150 million for the Palestinians and $50 million for Israel "to help ease the movement of Palestinian people and goods in and out of Israel." Originally the White House had proposed that the funds be considered together as a package, so that one could not vote against Palestinian aid without also voting against aid to Israel. Separating the two requests from one another could endanger the $150 million in aid to the Palestinians when the legislation goes to the Senate/House conference committee.

Additional links:
"For the Senate—A No-Brainer." By M.J. Rosenberg. IPF Friday, April 1, 2005 

"House Sets Limits on Palestinian Aid As DeLay Defies Calls of Bush, Rice." By Ori Nir. Forward, March 18, 2005 [Note: You will need a free online Forward account to view this article.] 

Campaign Expiration Date:
April 19, 2005


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