State Dept. official: Cutting funding to PA could make things worse


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Cutting off assistance to the Palestinian Authority and to the Lebanese government would create a void that radical forces could fill, a top Obama administration official said.

Andrew Shapiro, the assistant secretary for political military affairs at the State Department, said Friday that the Obama administration was "working with Capitol Hill" to prevent aid cuts to the Palestinians.

Democrats and Republicans alike in Congress have said that such cuts are all but inevitable now that the Palestinians have sought statehood recognition at the United Nations in the absence of negotiations.

"Members of Congress should be clear about the potential second and third order effects of cutting off assistance to Lebanon or the Palestinian Authority," Shapiro said in his talk at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Some lawmakers are also seeking cuts in assistance to Lebanon because of the participation in its government of Hezbollah, a designated terrorist group.

"We must ask ourselves – if we are no longer a partner, who will fill the void?" he said. "We must think about the other potential partners that could fill the space we leave behind – and that should give us pause."

Shapiro outlined how the Obama administration was working to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region, through no cuts in the $3 billion Israel gets in annual security assistance despite budget pressures; joint military exercises; and technology sharing.

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