Recently, three amendments were proposed in the Senate which would have cut aid to Palestine, including $370 million for budget support for the Palestinian Authority.  This would probably have affected vital organizations like Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem. The amendments were in response to the successful bid by Palestine to become a non-member state in the UN.

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) sent a letter to the 100 members of the Senate, urging others to do the same. J Street, the liberal Jewish pro-Israel group, rallied against the amendments, with followers sending nearly 15,000 letters to senators and making close to a thousand calls.

Tuesday, the National Defense Authorization Act passed without these amendments. Thanks to those who voiced their opposition to these moves which would have punished the Palestinian people. 

Other amendments favored by pro-Israel groups passed, including one approving additional funding for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system and one tightening Iran sanctions. Read full article.

Here is CMEP’s letter:

Three amendments have been introduced to S. 3254, The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) namely SA 3171, SA 3139, and SA 3203, that would severely limit or eliminate US assistance to the Palestinian Authority under various conditions. We believe the amendments are ill-advised and should be opposed. This assistance totaling $490 million in FY 2012 is for security assistance carried out in cooperation with the U.S. and Israel; USAID humanitarian and civil society projects, and budget support for the Palestinian Authority.

Reducing or cutting off funds for these would leave Palestinians and Israel less secure, reverse economic, social and civil development in the Palestinian territories, and threaten the Palestinian Authority with financial collapse. These developments would cripple US diplomatic efforts to bring about an agreement to end the conflict and impose great human hardship.

When similar measures were proposed a year ago they were opposed by many groups including Israel’s Ambassador the U.S., Michael Oren. Israeli Defense officials said if cuts to US assistance to the Palestinian Authority were imposed, Israel would suffer. For all these reasons Churches for Middle East Peace urges that these amendments not be brought to a vote or defeated.