The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Deferring the Decision

Countries throughout the Arab world regularly castigate Israel for its “oppression” of the Palestinians and argue that a pro-Palestinian resolution (i.e., the dissolution of Israel) to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is central to "change" in the Middle east, With this in mind, it’s instructive to learn that the Arab league, meeting at their economic summit in Sharm el-Sheikh this week, has refused to provide the Palestinians with any substantial foreign aid. Elad Benari reports on the Palestinian authority’s (PA) request for well over $350 million in aid:
… as it turns out, the Arab world is in no hurry to donate money to the PA: Arab leaders have decided not to transfer any funds to the PA at the moment, and have deferred the decision on this issue to the next economic conference which will take place in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in 2013.

While the PA’s brethren refuse to provide aid, the United States has no such problem. The Congressional Research Service (pdf) reports:
Since the death of Yasser Arafat in November 2004, U.S. assistance to the Palestinians has been averaging close to $400 million a year, with funding levels spiking to more than double the average for FY2009 to address (1) humanitarian needs in Gaza during and after the December 2008-January 2009 Israel-Hamas Gaza conflict; and (2) reform, security, and development priorities in the West Bank.

After providing a minimum of $2.4 billion in aid since 2005, is the United States any more appreciated in Gaza and the West Bank? Are we any more influential? Have the Palestinians made any tangible concessions for peace? Have they even agreed to sit down and talk about it? Are they any less belligerent? Have they stopped targeting Israeli civilian population centers with rockets and mortars? Have they stopped virulently anti-Semitic curricula in their schools? Have they stopped using the aid to purchase weaponry? Have they stopped abusing their own people? Have they reduced the corruption that is rampant in within Hamas and serious within the PA?

Maybe we should follow the lead of the Arab League and postpone any further U.S. aid until at least a few of these questions can be answered with a ‘yes.’