Wednesday, March 21, 2007
"Bethlehem - Ma'an - US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, stressed on Wednesday the need for Washington to continue its support for the political process in the occupied Palestinian territories. Rice was addressing the financial assistance committee in the House of Representatives. She said the Palestinians have to realize that their future is better when the so-called "moderates" are in power.
Rice added, "Washington will not suspend its contacts with the moderates in the Palestinian government." She said, "The unity government does not comply with the Quartet's conditions, or the basic principles to achieve peace. However, some members of that government recognize these conditions and principles, but we will not change our aid plan until the government recognizes these principles and conditions."
The Quartet, which comprises of the US, EU, UN and Russia, has stipulated that the Palestinian government recognises Israel's right to exist, renounces violence, and adopts the previous signed peace accords.
Rice urged the international community not to offer support to the Palestinian people through the Palestinian government. Instead, she urged them to continue sending aid through the available informal channels. One of these channels is the Temporary International Mechanism set up last year by the European Union in order to provide financial aid to the Palestinian people while bypassing the Palestinian government.
In another development, the Associated Press reported that Rice had announced that Washington would reduce aid to President Abbas' security forces.
She did not provide specifics, but a senior U.S. official said the cut would amount to about $36 million, leaving only $50 million of the original package intended for the Palestinian security forces, AP reported.
According to AP, Rice said the revisions would strengthen a ''firewall'' to keep money away from Hamas, who formed a national unity government with Fatah and other Palestinian political factions last week. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the USA. "