Israeli Ambassador Welcomes Resolution

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli ambassador to the United States Salai Meridor welcomed the U.S. Congress' decision to withhold a $150 million aid package to the Palestinian Authority (PA) until the State Department clarifies how the money will be spent.

Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, said the PA's suspension of peace talks cast doubt on its leadership's willingness to follow through.

"President Abbas's recent statements cast doubt on his willingness to take the steps necessary for peace with Israel," she said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Abbas backtracked on an earlier statement calling for a truce between Hamas and Israel before his government would return to negotiations with Israel.

While Lowey's spokesman, Matt Dennis, said they welcomed the PA's decision to resume negotiations, but added that they still required information on how the funds would be allocated.

Last week, congressional concerns over U.S. aid funding terrorism in the Palestinian Authority prompted President Bush to exercise a waiver meant to release the funds.

This week, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also signed a waiver to release U.S. military aid to Egypt, overriding congressional concern of Egypt's turning a blind eye to arms smuggling into Gaza.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution condemning Hamas for the daily rocket salvos on southern Israeli cities and towns.

An overwhelming majority of 404 congressman, with only one voting against the measure and four abstentions, endorsed the resolution, which called the rocket attacks a blatant violation of human rights and international law.

"For now, the attacks are continuing unabated, and they are destroying what hopes remain of Israeli-Palestinian peace," acting chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Howard Berman told congressmen Wednesday.

"That is why this resolution unambiguously recognizes and reaffirms Israel's sovereign right to defend its citizens and territory," he said.

The measure called on President Bush to seek a public condemnation of the rocket fire from Saudi Arabia and to address Palestinian terrorists' use of civilians as human shields.

The resolution noted that since Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, more than 4,000 rockets and mortar shells have rained down on Israel, killing 12 civilians and wounding hundreds, including children.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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