WASHINGTON (JTA) — Leaders from both parties on the House Foreign Affairs Committee urged Secretary of State John Kerry to suspend funding to the Palestinian Authority until it withdraws from the International Criminal Court.
“The United States should not support direct economic assistance to the P.A. until it demonstrates a meaningful reversal of this destructive course and proves it can be a willing partner for peace,” said the letter sent Jan. 22 and relayed to reporters late last week.
The letter, signed by the top Republicans and Democrats on the U.S. House of Representatives committee and each of its subcommittees, stopped short of a threat to take congressional action.
The only subcommittee leader not to sign was Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Africa subcommittee.
In a separate Senate letter sent to Kerry around the same time, 75 of its 100 members said they would “not support” assistance to the Palestinian Authority, suggesting they would withhold approval of appropriations.
Both letters were careful to target direct funding to the Palestinian Authority; much of the approximately $500 million in annual U.S. funding for the Palestinians goes to humanitarian projects separate from the P.A.
Cuts would affect U.S. funding for Palestinian security forces, which cooperate with Israel in securing the West Bank.
The Palestinians acceded to the ICC late last year and, in early January, the court’s prosecutor launched a preliminary examination of whether crimes were committed during Israel’s conflict last summer with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The probe also is looking into Israel’s actions in the West Bank subsequent to the kidnap and murder by Palestinian terrorists of three Jewish teenagers.