Churches for Middle East Peace Action Alert: Palestinian Aid Package Needed for Peace Progress!
The House and Senate are currently considering the Obama Administration's supplemental budget request that includes $840 million in aid to the Palestinians. The House Appropriations committee is expected to "mark-up" the bill next week and the Senate is likely to take it up sometime in May. As CMEP reported last week, opposition to the aid package - including a provision to allow funding to a potential Palestinian unity government - is brewing and it is important that your elected officials here from you now.
Send a message to Congress in support of the Palestinian aid package in the FY09 supplemental as a vital part of productive U.S. peace efforts.
The Palestinian funding will address urgent humanitarian needs in Gaza, promote economic development in the West Bank, foster stable government institutions and enhance security efforts. Failure to address the situation on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank will contribute to greater instability in the Holy Land and across the Middle East. More than 80% of Gazans are now reliant on humanitarian aid and in the West Bank food insecurity, unemployment and school dropout rates are all on the rise. Together with U.S. efforts to achieve a sustainable cease-fire and a secure re-opening of Gaza's border crossings, this aid will help alleviate the needs of the civilian population and foster moderation throughout the Palestinian territories.
Ask your Representative and Senator to support U.S. aid to the Palestinians and provide hope to the Palestinian people that peace is possible.
The Palestinian aid package is vital to the Administration's comprehensive peace effort, but there is skepticism in Congress. Some House Members view supporting the Palestinian people as a waste of money or equate it with a handout for Hamas. Some are seeking to limit the Administration's ability to provide aid to a Palestinian unity government, should one emerge this year. Click here to read CMEP's April 24th report on Secretary of State Clinton's exchanges with two House committee panels last week.
Included in the aid package is a key provision that would allow the U.S. to provide funding to a unity government that may include Hamas, as long as the government itself accepts the three Quartet principles of committing to nonviolence, recognizing Israel and accepting previous agreements. Secretary Clinton defended this position strongly last week, asking Congress not to "bind our hands in the event that such [a unity] agreement is reached." Indeed, Palestinian unity is necessary for Gaza reconstruction and a durable Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Tell Congress to provide the Administration with the tools and flexibility necessary to effectively pursue a negotiated two-state agreement.
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