U.S. Senate passes bill to block aid to Palestinian government

Friday, The United States Senate on passed a bill that blocks United States aid from going to the Palestinian government, headed by Hamas movement, but gives humanitarian relief to the Palestinian people and supports Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli online daily Haaretz reported.

The Senate unanimously approved the bill and it now must be reconciled with the House version, which the administration opposed, Haaretz added.

The new passed bill limits US aid to non-governmental organizations in the Palestinian territories, while the House of Representatives passed a bill in May limiting the aid to basic needs such as food, water, health, medicine, sanitation and education.

Also, the bills calls on isolating Hamas until it “renounces violence and recognizes Israel.

The bill of the House denied visas to Hamas officials in the Palestinian Authority, places travel restrictions on them at the United Nations, and bars them from opening any representation offices in the USA.

All aid provided to the Palestinian Authority was halted after Hamas movement won the majority of the seats at the Palestinian Legislative Council and controlled the government in January 2006.

Meanwhile, donor countries are working on a scheme to provide health care, utilities and basic needs for the poorest Palestinians to keep the territories from slipping into chaos.

The leading Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Joseph Biden , said that the US government wants to send a message to the Palestinians that the Hamas-led government “is failing them, not the international community”.

Senate Republican Whip Mitch McConnell of Kentucky stated that the bill gives Hamas the choice of “acting as a democratic government or continuing to act as a terrorist organization”, but critics of the bill claim that it acts in the opposite direction, punishing Palestinians for their democratic choice.

Haaretz also noted that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is the largest pro-Israel lobbying group,  strongly supported the Senate bill, as it supported the House version.

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