There are times when U.S. foreign aid could be perceived as treason.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday pledged $212 million of immediate U.S. aid to the Palestinians, bringing the total to over $400 million.
The pledge was made at an international conference in Cairo, where nations and organizations pledged more than $5 billion to rebuild the war-ravaged Gaza Strip after this summer’s 50-day war.
“The people of Gaza do need our help desperately,” Kerry said in a speech today in Cairo at a donor conference for reconstruction of Gaza. “Not tomorrow, not next week but they need it now.”
“We come here with a sense of awesome responsibility and even resignation about the challenge that we face because we all know that so much more needs to be done, even though there have been encouraging steps,” he said.
Kerry said the money will help the Palestinian Authority meet its budgetary needs for “relief and reconstruction” efforts, including the immediate distribution of food and medicine, repairing the region’s water and sanitation system, and rebuilding homes before winter.
The largest pledge at the Reconstructing Gaza conference came from Qatar. Foreign Minister Khaled bin Mohammed al-Attiyah promised to contribute $1 billion. Qatar’s close ties to Hamas and other Islamists—including the main al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Nusra Front—has caused friction with its Gulf neighbors since the onset of the Arab Spring three years ago. Qatar’s regional profile has grown through its backing of Islamist movements during this period.
The deputy prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Ziad Abu Amr, admitted that Qatar “wants to be there” in Gaza when the rebuilding takes place. He claims that the reconstruction will take place under a modified political setup that excludes Hamas because Western donors including the U.S., the U.K. and the European Union can’t legally give money directly to Hamas, which they deem a terrorist group.
Who will oversee this political setup to ensure American taxpayers’ money isn’t a pay day for the Muslim Brotherhood?
John Kerry also said without a long-term commitment to peace, any donor money would be nothing more than “a Band-Aid fix.”
“Out of this conference must come not just money, but a renewed commitment from everybody to work for a peace that meets the aspirations of all — for Israelis, for Palestinians, and for all the peoples of this region,” he said.
Is this U.S. foreign aid really contributing to a peace effort if materials end up in Hamas’ possession? There have been questions raised in the past as to where some of the U.S. aid to this region was used. It is unclear how much of this material, if any, wound up with Hamas—an estimate the Israelis didn’t make.
Uncertainty like this is troubling to Israel and should raise questions with all Americans. It’s implausible to send millions of dollars into Gaza, knowing Hamas has de facto control, and somehow think that money won’t be used against Israel.
At some point a line must be drawn between foreign aid and committing treason.