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Bush releases money to Abbas

President Bush bypassed Congress to release funds to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. In a memorandum sent Friday afternoon to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice authorizing the release of the funds, Bush cites national security to waive a number of laws that require him to vet such assistance with Congress. He does not cite a sum, but describes the money as designated “for the administrative and personal security costs of the Office of the President of the Palestinian Authority; for the activities of the President of the Palestinian Authority to promote democracy, peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the rule of law and to fulfill his duties as President, including, among other things, to maintain control of the management and security of border crossings and to foster the Middle East peace process.” The money is in addition to $59 million Congress already authorized earlier this year to bolster forces loyal to Abbas, a relative moderate who is struggling for power with the government led by Hamas, a terrorist group. Bush adds the caveat that the money is not to reach Hamas by any means. In the same memorandum, Bush also authorizes assistance for non-governmental organizations assisting the Palestinians, again citing national security to waive laws requiring him to vet such funds with Congress.