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Hold lifted on aid to Abbas

U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) lifted the hold she had placed on funds for security forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority president. Lowey, chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee, had used her prerogative to stop the request from the State Department for $86 million to bolster Mahmoud Abbas, a relative moderate, in the face of challenges from the P.A. Cabinet led by Hamas, a terrorist group. Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah Party then formed a national unity government, and in hearings earlier this month Lowey asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice why Abbas still deserved funding. Rice said she was revising the request, and reduced it to $59 million. On Friday, Lowey said she found the revised request acceptable. “This new request focuses on training and non-lethal equipment for the Presidential Guard under President Abbas and improving the physical security infrastructure on the Palestinian side” of the Karni crossing from Gaza to Israel, Lowey said in a statement. “Despite serious concerns about this plan, I believe that peace requires the international community to engage and strengthen moderate voices in the West Bank and Gaza. I have concluded that the administration’s security proposal, which has earned the support of the government of Israel, is aimed toward that end, and therefore, I will not place a hold on the scaled-back request for $59 million.”

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