Amendment to Food Act Prohibits U.S. Development Aid from Assisting PLO

The House of Representatives recently passed an amendment to the International Development and Food Assistance Act of 1978 to prohibit the use of any U.S. development aid from directly or indirectly assisting the Palestine Liberation Organization. This legislation was passed May 12 without fanfare because public interest was focussed on the debate over the controversial Middle East planes sales package.

The author of the amendment, Rep. Lester Wolff (D.NY), said that this was a necessary measure because some of the funds allocated to the Middle East within the bill have not been earmarked for specific projects. The stated purpose of the 1978 act is to “increase understanding between the Arab countries and Israel by assisting the nations in the region in their efforts to achieve economic progress and political stability.”

Wolff said that “PLO activities are clearly counterproductive to an increased understanding between Israel and the Arab countries. In keeping with the spirit of U.S. policies, this amendment demonstrates our unwillingness to accept any inhumane violations of human rights and serves as a message to other terrorist groups that the U.S. does not condone such tactics.”

Wolff also stated that “stability and security in the Middle East has been threatened by the PLO group and we must act to remove any doubts as to our firm commitment to preserve and protect a peaceful settlement in that region.”

He added that “as the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel needs meaningful indications of our continued support. The rather tenuous situation in the Mideast demands U.S. actions that are ‘reinforcing’ of our desire to protect Israel’s right to live in peace….Our responsibility is to condemn terrorism and protect nations that adhere to the very traditions that built the U.S.”

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