Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why Providing US Money To Abbas Is Illegal...Maybe

Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook of Palestinian Media Watch write in The Jerusalem Post about what Abbas has been using US money for--namely the kinds of things that are prohibited by US law:
The PA chose to name its latest computer center "after the martyr Dalal Mughrabi," who led the most deadly terror attack in the country's history. Her 1978 bus hijacking killed 37 civilians, 12 of them children, including American photographer Gail Rubin. The new center is funded by Abbas's office, which is bolstered by Western aid money. (Al-Ayyam, May 5).

US law prohibits the funding of Palestinian structures that use any portion of their budget to promote terror or honor terrorists. But $200 million of the US's proposed $900m. aid package is earmarked to go directly to the Abbas government, which regularly uses its budget to honor terrorists. In fact, this latest veneration of Mughrabi is not an isolated case, but part of a continuing pattern of honoring terrorists that targets children in particular.

Last summer the PA sponsored "the Dalal Mughrabi football championship" for kids, and a "summer camp named for martyr Dalal Mughrabi... out of honor and admiration for the martyr." It also held a party to honor exemplary students, also named "for the martyr Dalal Mughrabi," under the auspices of Abbas and at which Abbas's representative "reviewed the heroic life of the martyr [Mughrabi] (Al-Hayat al-Jadida, July 23, 24 and August 8, 2008). All these PA-funded activities were to teach kids that a killer of women and children is a role model.

TWO MONTHS AGO, 31 years to the day after the Mughrabi murders, PA TV broadcast a special program celebrating the terror attack, calling the killing of 37 civilians "one of the most important and most prominent special operations... carried out by a team of heroes and led by the heroic fighter Dalal Mughrabi" (PA TV March 11). And its not just Mughrabi who is a Palestinian hero. Despite professions in English by Abbas and other PA leaders that they reject terror, the PA has a long and odious history in Arabic of celebrating terrorists as role models and heroes, often involving US money.

USAID spent $400,000 in 2004 to build the Salakh Khalaf soccer field. After Palestinian Media Watch reported that Khalaf was the head of the Palestinian terror group that murdered 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics and two American diplomats in Sudan, USAID publicly apologized and said it would demand that the PA change the name. The name was never changed.
In 2002, US money funded renovations of the "Dalal Mughrabi school for girls." After PMW alerted the US State Department to Mughrabi's terrorist past, the funding was cancelled. Within 24 hours, the PA said the name would be changed, and the American money was reinstated. Once the work was completed, however, the school was renamed for the terrorist. It bears Mughrabi's name to this day.
AT A RECENT hearing of the House Appropriations Committee, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged: "We will work only with a Palestinian Authority government that unambiguously and explicitly accepts the Quartet's principles, [including] a commitment to nonviolence." And it's not just Clinton's pledge. US law interprets nonviolence to include not honoring terrorists: "None of the [US]... assistance under the West Bank and Gaza program may be made available for the purpose of recognizing or otherwise honoring individuals who commit, or have committed acts of terrorism" (2008 Foreign Operations Bill Sec. 657.B - C.1). This latest glorification of the terrorist Mughrabi, coming as Congress considers the administration's latest request to fund Abbas, imposes a profound responsibility on Congress. But it also creates a unique opportunity.
Well, theres good news and bad news.
The good news is that what Marcus and Crook have written about the Foreign Operations Bill is correct:

SEC. 657. (a) OVERSIGHT- For fiscal year 2008, 30 days prior to the initial obligation of funds for the bilateral West Bank and Gaza Program, the Secretary of State shall certify to the Committees on Appropriations that procedures have been established to assure the Comptroller General of the United States will have access to appropriate United States financial information in order to review the uses of United States assistance for the Program funded under the heading `Economic Support Fund' for the West Bank and Gaza.
(b) Vetting- Prior to the obligation of funds appropriated by this Act under the heading `Economic Support Fund' for assistance for the West Bank and Gaza, the Secretary of State shall take all appropriate steps to ensure that such assistance is not provided to or through any individual, private or government entity, or educational institution that the Secretary knows or has reason to believe advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in, or has engaged in, terrorist activity nor, with respect to private entities or educational institutions, those that have as a principal officer of the entity's governing board or governing board of trustees any individual that has been determined to be involved in, or advocating terrorist activity or determined to be a member of a designated foreign terrorist organization. The Secretary of State shall, as appropriate, establish procedures specifying the steps to be taken in carrying out this subsection and shall terminate assistance to any individual, entity, or educational institution which she has determined to be involved in or advocating terrorist activity.
(1) None of the funds appropriated under titles II through V of this Act for assistance under the West Bank and Gaza program may be made available for the purpose of recognizing or otherwise honoring individuals who commit, or have committed acts of terrorism.
The problem is--that is for fiscal year 2008.
What about this year?

And it does have a similar provision:
(1) Of the funds appropriated under the heading `Economic Support Fund' in this Act, $75,000,000 shall be made available for assistance for the West Bank and Gaza.

(2) The terms and conditions of sections 635, 644, 647, 650, 655, 656, 657 (except subsection (f)), and the eighth through twelfth provisos under the heading `Economic Support Fund' of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008 (division J of Public Law 110-161) shall apply to assistance for the West Bank and Gaza in this Act.
Paragraph 2 makes clear that the provision from the 2008 bill that I quoted is still in effect.

That's the good news.
The bad news--according to, this bill was never put to a vote and never became law:

Occurred: IntroducedJul 18, 2008
Occurred: Reported by CommitteeJul 17, 2008
Not Yet Occurred: Voted on in Senate(did not occur)
Not Yet Occurred: Voted on in House(did not occur)
Not Yet Occurred: Signed by President(did not occur)
This bill never became law. This bill was proposed in a previous session of Congress. Sessions of Congress last two years, and at the end of each session all proposed bills and resolutions that haven't passed are cleared from the books. Members often reintroduce bills that did not come up for debate under a new number in the next session.
Bottom line, without that bill being passed, what is to keep the Obama administration to not only provide millions to Gaza, but also to the PA in the West Bank--regardless of the pro-terrorism uses it is still being put to?

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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