My, where has the time gone? President Obama has finally set foot in Israel, in what is purported to be our best ally in the Middle East. He couldn’t find the time during his entire first-term in office. Or perhaps it was a matter of priorities? So what has changed?
The Palestinian Authority’s pending new unity government including Fatah and Hamas. It’s no coincidence that Obama finally shows up at this critical time in the process. The trip is to accomplish a multitude of things but a couple that stand out relate to funding the Palestine Authority.
U.S. law prevents funding terrorist organizations, so a central theme of the Obama trip is to legitimize the unity government agreement between Fatah and Hamas. Defenders have denied for years that Palestine funding intended to support humanitarian actions and infrastructure support for the West Bank, controlled by Fatah, ever makes it to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Clearly with the new unity government set to take over, that denial will no longer be possible.
To satisfy Congress, Obama had to make the trip to show his involvement and oversight if you will as to the “new” leaf turned over by Hamas. The trip has already paid dividends as nearly half a billion dollars in U.S. aid was released recently. A State Dept. briefing yesterday confirmed this.
To date, we have moved $295.7 million in Fiscal Year 2012 money, 200 million of that – see, this – numbers don’t – oh, and 200 million in Fiscal Year 2013 assistance. So breaking that down again, 200 million in FY2013 ESF money was direct budget support for the Palestinian Authority; 195.7 million in FY12 Economic Support money went for development and humanitarian assistance implemented by USAID; 100 million in FY2012 for International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement; and then in February – at the end of February we notified Congress about another 200 million that we’d like to move.
Obama had to journey to Israel despite his obvious disdain for having to bite the bullet and do so. After all, what else would one expect from a muslim? But, he had to do it as Israel controls the taxes and tariffs collected by goods passing through Israel into Palestine. They regular withhold these as a form of economic sanctions.
The $107.31 million Israel released is only a one-time reprieve however. Arab nations have a supposed “safety net” in place to subsidize the Palestine Authority budget whenever Israel withholds the tax/tariffs, yet they haven’t come through as promised.
Obama was well-prepared in advance for the trip. He met with a multitude of anti-Israel, pro-Hamas groups prior to leaving and had his marching orders in hand – http://frontpagemag.com/2013/dgreenfield/obama-meets-with-anti-israel-pro-hamas-groups-before-trip-to-israel/.
Obama has quite a bit on his plate when you consider all that he needs to accomplish at the same time. He needs to maximize the public pain inflicted back home in America from the relatively miniscule sequester cuts. He also had to take the pain himself and visit Israel to pay lip service to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict. And he had to play referee at the Palestine unity government negotiations (along with financier Qatar I might add) to insure that U.S. aid keeps flowing despite the law in place to prevent it.
Funding Hamas with the approval of Congress and Israel at the same time? Well done. Funding Hamas at the same time sequester is bringing government to a halt back home? Well done. Funding Hamas while sequester stops White House tours and starves the staff of Debbie Wasserman Schultz while Biden toughs it out in Paris with a half-million dollar price tag? Wow, really well done Mr. President.
Nobody ever said fundamentally changing America while promoting a global Islamic Caliphate would be easy, did they? So far, Obama has shown himself to be up to the challenge.