So we're going to create another weathly leader.........just like Arafat......amassing wealth while the people suffer


U.S. to give Palestinian Authority $20 million

Cites 'renewed opportunity for peace' following Arafat's death

From Elise Labott and Elaine Quijano
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Citing a "renewed opportunity for peace" in the Middle East, the Bush administration said Wednesday it will give $20 million directly to the Palestinian Authority.

Assistant Secretary of State William Burns made the announcement in Oslo, Norway, at a meeting of the Palestinian Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, a group representing various countries and organizations promoting Palestinian reforms.

Burns said the decision to give the money to the authority was made after the group fulfilled its promises for financial reform, and reflected U.S. "confidence" in the continuation of its reform program.

According to White House press secretary Scott McClellan, part of the money will be used to help pay debts to the Israeli government ahead of the Palestinians' upcoming January 9 elections.

The United States typically gives aid to the Palestinians through nongovernmental organizations and U.N. agencies due to concerns about corruption.

But the Bush administration began discussions with Congress about giving direct aid to the Palestinian Authority following the death of President Yasser Arafat last month.

Burns also announced the United States would provide $2.5 million in technical assistance for Palestinian presidential elections and another $1 million to fund international observers for those elections.

The move came amid a flurry of diplomatic activity since Arafat's death.

U.S. and Arab officials say recent discussions between Israel and the Palestinians, facilitated by Egypt, have produced a consensus on various issues critical to lay the groundwork for eventual negotiations on a final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

These officials said the agreements in principle include a cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militant factions, as well as the establishment of security in Gaza following Israel's planned withdrawal.

Israel also has agreed to several steps to help facilitate Palestinian elections, including easing roadblocks and checkpoints, releasing Palestinian money, and allowing registration of voters throughout the West Bank and Gaza, the officials said.

While no negotiations on a final peace deal are expected before a new Palestinian government is elected, officials said that the steps agreed to are expected to improve relations between the Israelis and Palestinians and move the peace process forward.

McClellan told reporters that said Bush sees "a real opportunity" to "move forward on helping the Palestinian people realize a viable, democratic state."

"We certainly have a national security interest in helping to end violence in the area and to move toward the president's two-state vision that he outlined in 2002," McClellan said.

He continued: "This contribution of financial assistance hopefully will send a signal to other nations as well that they should help the Palestinian people as they move forward on conducting these elections."


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