January 5th, 2007 18:05 EST
Bush Seeking Tens of Millions in Palestinian Aid
Washington -- President Bush is seeking to provide Palestinian security forces under the control of President Mahmoud Abbas with "non-lethal material assistance" designed to help them provide security and regulate checkpoints.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said January 5 the Bush administration is considering funding "on the order of tens of millions of dollars."
The funds would be used to provide assistance such as vehicles, communication, uniforms and training, with the idea of building up "responsible security forces" to help prevent terror attacks and provide security in Gaza and the West Bank.
They also would help build up Palestinian capacity for regulating checkpoints "so you can keep those passages open, especially in Gaza, which has obvious economic benefits for the Palestinians," McCormack said.
He added that the United States would be working with others in the region, such as Egypt, that “share an interest in seeing those security forces built up as well."
The spokesman said U.S. officials, including David Welch, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, have had initial consultations with Congress, which is charged with authorizing the funds. Those discussions "went well," McCormack said.
"Our primary concern is to make sure that none of these funds in any way are able to be used by Hamas or benefit a Hamas-led government. So here we’re being very careful and scrupulous in building in the safeguards" to prevent that from happening, McCormack said.
For more information on U.S. policies, see Response to Terrorism and The Middle East: A Vision for the Future.
(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
By Stephen Kaufman
USINFO Staff Writer