Specter: Make P.A. aid conditional on commitment to peace

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter said aid to the Palestinian Authority should be predicated on its commitment to peace.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Pennsylvania Democrat said he was concerned about reports that the Fatah conference in August had "served as a platform for participants to launch vitriol against Israel, incite violence and further impede the peace process."

In light of those reports, Specter wrote that U.S. support for the Palestinians, such as the $800 million in aid that will go to the Palestinian Authority this year, "ought to be predicated on at least some level of assurance that the beneficiaries are committed to long-term peace."

He also urged Clinton that if she deems the reports Specter refers to about the Fatah conference accurate, she should tell P.A. leaders that such events are "counterproductive and will not be tolerated."

In August, at the Fatah General Assembly, the first in 20 years, participants refused to renounce violence and passed confrontational resolutions, including one blaming Yasser Arafat’s death on Israel.

In his speech to that conference, newly re-elected Fatah chairman and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also stressed that the Palestinians would focus on nonviolent resistance.

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