There is irony in Congressional action aimed at punishing the Palestinians for steps the US does not like, some analysts say. The move is being spearheaded by members of Congress who consider themselves among Israel’s best friends. But even Israeli officials have argued for maintaining the aid, much of which goes to train and support Palestinian law enforcement forces and to build up the Palestinian justice system.
“These members of Congress are going far to the right of the ruling coalition in Israel by placing these holds, and are actually undermining it,” says Dylan Williams, director of government affairs at J Street, a Washington pro-Israel advocacy group that favors a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
US aid to the Palestinians falls into three categories: direct budgetary assistance, humanitarian assistance administered through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and security assistance. “Holds,” which are a means usually at committee chairs’ disposal for stalling funding or other measures, have been placed on all three lines of Palestinian aid.