March 20, 2007


US envoy defies Israel by holding talks with Palestinian minister (Donald Macintyre, 21 March 2007 , Independent)

The US has opened contacts with a senior Palestinian minister in a move which underlined a difference between Israel and its closest allies over their approach to the new coalition government.

Salam Fayyad, the moderate Finance minister, disclosed that he had held a meeting in Ramallah with Jacob Walles, the US consul general in Jerusalem.

Israel's cabinet on Sunday approved a policy of having no contacts with ministers in the new "national unity" Palestinian Authority whether they were in Hamas or not. Raymond Johansen, deputy foreign minister of Norway, which has said it will end its boycott of the PA because of the new coalition, said yesterday that Israel had declined to meet him in protest at his meeting in Gaza on Monday with the Hamas Prime Minister, Ishmail Haniyeh.

The US had already indicated that it was prepared to meet members of the new government like Mr Fayyad, a former World Bank official with whom it has already had regular contacts.

Our friendship with Israel increasingly looks like it will require us to make them stop hurting themselves. Their adventure in Shi'a Lebanon was counterproductive enough, but their insistence on remaining engaged in a death dance with Palestine has reached absurd proportions.

Embargo didn't stop flow of Palestinian aid (Steven Erlanger, March 21, 2007, NY Times)

Instead of going to the Palestinian Authority, much of the money was given directly to individuals or through independent agencies like the World Food Program.

The International Monetary Fund and the United Nations say the Palestinians received $1.2 billion in aid and budgetary support in 2006, about $300 per capita, compared with $1 billion in 2005.

While the United States and the European Union have led the boycott, they, too, provided more aid to the Palestinians in 2006 than 2005. Washington increased its aid to $468 million in 2006, from $400 million in 2005.

The European Union and its member states alone are subsidizing one million people in the West Bank and Gaza, a quarter of the population, as part of their effort to avoid creating a catastrophe from the embargo.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 20, 2007 7:41 PM

Tee Hee. Let us therefore wonder, you and I, just what they might be talking about....

To which, the only rational response must be: "Give them more money!! And do it now!!"

Keeping in mind this extraordinary blather from September 20, 2005, which contains the following gem:

U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (representing the EU presidency): I am asked whether money put in by the European Union and other donors might end up as "failed projects which might go to waste". I say this: In recent years, not least thanks to the work of Salam Fayed, the Finance Minister of the Palestinian Authority, there have been higher and higher levels of accountability for the spending which has been financed by external donors, including the European Union. For the European Union's part, there has been intensive scrutiny, too, to ensure that the money is spent for the purpose intended. We are always alive to complaints that it is not being spent in the way intended, but Commissioner Patten and Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner, his successor, are very tough in ensuring that the money that is allocated is spent properly.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at March 21, 2007 5:09 AM

The countries of the Middle East are dependent enough on us without giving them more welfare payola.

Posted by: oj at March 21, 2007 6:26 AM

"Intervention" for Israel? Probably an OK idea.

But "intervention" for the Palestinians is a entirely different matter. And their need is much, much greater.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 21, 2007 8:47 AM