Arafat aide accuses US of financial blackmail in bombing investigation
The United States is using financial blackmail to pressure the Palestinians to arrest those responsible for the Gaza roadside bombing that killed three Americans in October, said top Palestinian advisor, Jibril Rajoub at a press conference in Ramallah Wednesday.
“The Americans have stopped their involvement, waiting for the results of the investigation," said Rajoub, a top security advisor to Yasser Arafat. "I think this is blackmail.” The US Embassy has stopped sending representatives to the West Bank and Gaza, making it more difficult to carry out aid programs in the region.
Rajoub’s remarks also referred to a US threat to halt $200 million in funding to the Palestinian Authority until progress is made in the bombing’s investigation.
“We have an interest to arrest those terrorists and criminals and send them to court. But I don't think it's a wise policy to justify an American policy to accuse the Palestinian Authority of not arresting anyone," added Rajoub.
Since 1994, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) West Bank and Gaza program has provided more than one billion dollars in assistance to Palestinians. However, Washington has made it increasing harder for financial assistance to reach the population. Last year, USAID imposed a condition on receiving parties, obliging them to pledge that grants would not "provide material support or resources to any individual or entity that advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in or has engaged in terrorist activity."
Palestinian aid groups have refused US government support in protest to the pre-requisite of signing a document stating that funds will not be channeled to “terrorists”. Activist groups fear that the United State’s definition of terrorist-supporting activities would cover the majority of projects underway in the West Bank and Gaza. — (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)