"US women demand US restore aid to the Palestinian Authority"

Grassroots Campaign calls on Bush Administration to remedy humanitarian crisis

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, June 21, 2006

An International NGO focused on peace and human rights, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom [WILPF], has launched a grassroots campaign to pressure the Bush Administration to end the policy of restricting aid to the Palestinian people and the democratically elected government of Palestine, Hamas. The organization demands that the US government immediately restore aid to the Palestinian Authority, and intends to mobilize women across the US to end this arbitrary and unfair policy that has exacerbated the already dire situation of the Palestinian people.

“Our demands are clear.” said National Campaign Organizer Libby Frank of WILPF US. “The U.S. must accept the January 2006 election of Hamas as the voice of Palestinian people and re-instate funds that have been illegally withheld since the election. The U.S. must withdraw threats to foreign banks willing to make loans to the Palestine Authority, but are afraid to do so because of threats of US boycotts, and the U.S. should insist that Israel pay the taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians.”

Israel collects import taxes on goods slated for Palestine, and for years has reimbursed the funds to the Palestine Authority [PA]. Israel is now withholding those funds.

“Simply reallocating aid to other sources would be an unworkable policy” said Barbara Taft, National Campaign Organizer for WILPF US. “Increasing poverty is leading to a desperate, radicalized population, who may resort to desperate measures.”

Hamas has been offered alternate sources of funding from countries unfavorable to US policy, such as Iran. [Hamas turns to Muslim world for aid, Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press, 06/15/2006]

As the Palestinian government’s most vital donor providing the PA with 1/3 of its total aid, the US government’s failure to resume aid has had grim consequences on the establishment of a workable government in Palestine. A recent World Bank report predicted a humanitarian crisis due to rampant food shortages and increasing rates of unemployment. Failure to resume aid would further create a period in which the PA “is disabled [that] might result in the unraveling of a dozen years of donor efforts to build the responsible, accountable institutions needed for a future Palestinian state...It is also hard to envisage how the PA could meet the Quartet's conditions if it is not operative.” [World Bank Report: "Palestinian crisis is worse than expected "Report, Worldbank, 8 May 2006]

“We will do whatever it takes to make our leaders listen!” said Kate Zaidan, WILPF National Program Coordinator. “A policy that promotes starvation and oppression of innocent bystanders is not a just policy and should not be one embraced by the US government in its quest for democracy in the Middle East.”

"Neither Israel nor Palestine is made secure by the current US policy. We insist on the recognition of Hamas as the democratically elected government of Palestine and the reinstatement of all funds withheld since the election because we want peace for both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Our sister sections in Israel and Palestine agree with us on our challenge to US policy," said Program Chair C.J. Minster.

Women Challenge US Policy: Building Peace on Justice in the Middle East is a sustained effort on behalf of WILPF members to challenge US policy in the Middle East. WILPF members create the peaceful transformation they wish to see in the world by making connections that: provide continuity with the past so that knowledge of historical events and patterns informs current activities for change; create analysis and action that reflect and reinforce each other; link and challenge root causes of oppression, especially racism, sexism, heterosexism, militarism, economic disparity, and political disempowerment; and build and strengthen relationships and movements for justice, peace, and radical democracy

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