Haley reverses Congressional testimony on US aid to the PA

WASHINGTON – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley backtracked on remarks she made to the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) this summer regarding Washington’s economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Answering a June 28 query from Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Haley testified, “We give quite a bit of money to the Palestinian Authority: directly, bilaterally.”

However, in response to a written follow-up question from a member of Congress — first obtained by Jewish Insider  Haley corrected herself this month. “Since 2014, the U.S. has not provided direct budget assistance to the Palestinian Authority,” she said.

Michael Koplow, Policy Director of the Israel Policy Forum, described Haley’s October follow-up response as a “retraction” for her June remarks which he characterized as “100% wrong.” Koplow added, “I don’t think she knew the specifics of the aid arrangements when she testified in June.”

“In fiscal years 2015 and 2016, the U.S. provided approximately $544 million to support development and humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza,” Haley added in October, referring primarily to USAID programs helping Palestinian citizens, not budgetary support for the Ramallah-based government.

While the Trump administration now backs the Taylor Force Act, which would restrict aid if the P.A. continues to pay families of terrorists, Haley highlighted the benefits of US assistance to the West Bank and Gaza. “U.S. support improves the lives of Palestinians in the areas of democracy and governance, education, water and sanitation, and economic growth and private enterprise,” she concluded.

Haley’s reversal on US assistance to the PA were not the only comments the former South Carolina Governor appeared to retract from the June 28 Congressional hearing. While testifying, Haley noted that Qatar “funds Hamas.” Yet, Buzzfeed’s John Hudson reported on Friday that Haley corrected these comments and later wrote to Members of Congress that Doha “does not fund” Hamas.

Haley has been one of Israel’s most enthusiastic supporters in the Trump administration and played a critical role in pulling the U.S. out of UNESCO due to anti-Israel bias. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a State Department official explained, “While the U.S. government does not provide direct budget support to the Palestinian Authority, we do partner with the PA on economic and humanitarian projects.”

Brent Sasley, Professor of Political Science at University of Texas in Arlington, noted, “Key foreign policy positions haven’t been filled, so it’s possible the correct information isn’t getting to the top policymakers and others publicly speaking about aid to the Palestinians. It’s possible Haley didn’t have complete information when she testified in June.”

For some years now, the United States has been getting out of the business of direct budget support for the Palestinian Authority,” former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro explained. “The vast majority of our assistance supports security cooperation between Israel and the PA (and) finances projects that promote economic development that directly benefits the Palestinian people and promotes stability. As Ambassador Haley seems to indicate, the Trump Administration recognizes that those elements of the program support US and Israeli interests in stability and improved economic and humanitarian conditions.”

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