ISRAEL POLICY FORUM/TPM CAFÉ
Obama Loosens Conditions on Palestinian Aid
Congressional Quarterly is reporting that President Obama is requesting that Congress amend a law that would end the flow of US aid to the Palestinian Authority if a Fatah-Hamas power sharing arrangement is established.
Under current law any Hamas involvement in the Palestinian Authority would end all US aid.
Obama's proposal (included in the 2009 supplemental appropriation) would still ban aid to Hamas or any group affiliated with it until it accepts international conditions but would permit aid to continue if the overall PA remained in full compliance with those conditions.
This would permit the establishment of a government of so-called "technocrats" to be established which could speak for the combined Fatah/Hamas government and still receive US aid.
"It is expected that such a power-sharing government would speak authoritatively for the entire Palestinian Authority government, including its ministries, agencies and instrumentalities," according to the report accompanying the Presidential request.
The new law would also permit aid to flow even to a Palestinian government that did not meet international conditions if the President determines that such aid is in the national interest.
This may be another sign of a shift in US policy. Prime Minister Netanyahu's representative has already visited key Hill offices to warn of the danger that US dollars could fall into Hamas hands and it can be expected that center-right and rightwing Jewish organizations will oppose this change.
Pro-Israel organizations that favor more vigorous US efforts to advance negotiations are likely to welcome this change and make sure Capitol Hill knows it…
The signs all point in one direction. President Obama is breaking with his predecessors' policies on Israel-Palestine.
The latest evidence is his decision to submit legislation that would allow US assistance to the Palestinians even if Fatah and Hamas form a unity government. Under current law, any power sharing agreement would terminate US aid.
This change, if implemented, makes it more likely that a power sharing arrangement will be reached. And that is good news because the two-state solution requires that there be one Palestinian entity, not two. The two-state solution is tricky enough. Three states? Forget about it.
Let's see what Congress does with Obama's request. Will the Democrats follow Obama or back the Netanyahu government which is already lobbying against the Obama language?
Meanwhile, the Times of London expects an Israeli attack on Iran at any time. I don't believe it. Too utterly insane.