State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Thursday that the United States is “very concerned” about the continued viability of the Palestinian Authority if it does not receive funds soon. She made clear that those funds may include the resumption of Israel transferring taxes it collects on behalf of the PA or more aid from donors.
Psaki also confirmed that Washington has been in urgent talks over the past few weeks with regional leaders as well as other stakeholders, including the Israelis, Palestinians, EU, UN, the Russians and the Arab League.
“If the PA ceased security cooperation with Israel or even decides to disband [its security agency], as it has said it may do as early as the first week of March in the event that it does not receive more tax revenue,” she warned, “we could be faced with a crisis that could gravely impact both the Palestinians and the Israelis, with potentially serious ripple effects.”
Israel continues to suspend the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians as a response to Mahmoud Abbas signing requests to join 20 international institutions at the end of last year, the most important of which is the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The state department official admitted the difficulty in “getting further assistance to the Palestinian Authority through Congress in the near future”, but she added that everyone has seen how intense the need is on the ground. “These needs are both on a security and humanitarian level, and as you know, we are holding all of these talks due to the horrible situation.”
Senator Rand Paul, meanwhile, has proposed a bill to get Congressional support for the blocking of US funding to the Palestinian Authority until its leaders withdraw their request to join the International Criminal Court. A statement issued by the Republican Senator for Kentucky said that the “Defend Israel by Defunding Palestinian Foreign Aid Act of 2015” was submitted on Thursday. Paul believes that the US should cut off aid to the Palestinians as long as they seek recognition in the ICC. The Obama administration, however, has not committed itself to any particular measures.
“Certainly groups that threaten Israel cannot be allies of the US,” insisted the senator. “I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure this president and this Congress stop treating Israel’s enemies as American allies.”