Monday, July 10, 2006

The Impact of the Hamas Victory on funding for Palestinians

Thursday, June 22, 2006 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm

Speakers: David Greene, Deputy Director, Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs, US Department of State; David McCloud, Director of the Office of Middle East Affairs, USAID; Jonathan Davidson, Senior Advisor, Delegation of the European Commission.

The US is committed to a two-state solution, but Hamas’ win has caused a reassessment; no government that has bad policies has a right to US aid. Even before, the aid community hasn’t usually been allowed to give money directly to the Palestinian Authority (PA), but rather goes through grantees. They have to be careful not to give support to Hamas. US organizations must get a license to work with the PA. The current US policy is to give humanitarian aid to Palestinians, without working with the PA. To this end, funds have shifted to humanitarian aid rather than development. The FY06 budget makes even harder restrictions
USAID has set aside money for education, but they have to go around education ministry. They have never negotiated with PA. They might have consulted with the PA on viability, but no sign off was ever required. They are not even doing that anymore. The issuance of new grants is mostly on hold. The policies of the government are not in line with those of the people. The major stumbling block is that Hamas has rejected international norms.
The European Union is a major donor. In the past, they have worked through the PA, but there is a new ban on contact with the PA. The PA was in financial trouble even before the election, so the situation is becoming very dangerous. For the time being, they have created TIM, Temporary International Mechanism, to give assistance to the people. The aid community has good dealings with Israel and any Palestinians they can. The major goals are to prevent a breakdown of services, and to keep a social safety net in place. If Hamas were to agree to recognize Israel and renounce violence, the international community would quickly respond.

by George Schaal

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