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The Bush adminstration is asking Congress for at least $375 million in new money for the Palestinians. The money, which has not been flagged by any U.S. official despite a flurry of diplomatic activity ahead of a peace conference planned for next month, is buried in a $45.9 billion emergency request for supplemental funds for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that was submitted Monday to Congress. Included in a $1.1 billion item ostensibly for elections and infrastructure assistance in Afghanistan is “$350 million to provide urgent budget support and economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority. These funds are required to help the Palestinian Authority build its infrastructure and meet its financial obligations to avoid a pending fiscal crisis that could undermine its authority.” Under a separate request for “international law enforcement,” an additional $25 million would go to the Palestinian Authority to help it “improve its security capabilities.”

President Bush, announcing plans for the conference in July, made a point of noting that the $190 million he planned to use to assist the Palestinian Authority and an additional $80 million he planned to allocate for security training came from funds that already had been appropriated. Since then, that has been a trope among State Department officials. Another $35 million in the emergency Iraq supplemental aid would go to Palestinian refugee assistance in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. That money appears to be part of the established donations the United States makes to UNRWA, the U.N.’s Palestinian refugee assistance organization.

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