Hilary Leila Krieger,THE JERUSALEM POSTJul. 17, 2007
Despite US President George W. Bush's declaration of increased support for the Palestinians, particularly financial help, the administration has acknowledged that no new funding requests have been made to Congress as part of the program outlined in Bush's speech on Monday.Critics of the president and his speech seeking to reinvigorate the peace process and bolster Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas labeled the lack of promised financial support symptomatic of the administration's treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, saying it shed doubt on whether the speech could impact the reality on the ground."The United States is taking a series of steps to strengthen the forces of moderation and peace among the Palestinian people," Bush said Monday. "First, we are strengthening our financial commitment."He pointed to more than $190 million in humanitarian assistance, $225m. in loan backing and $80m. in a security-reform program to be headed by Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton.Yet administration officials said Tuesday that what amounts to $194m. in humanitarian aid - a combination of the US yearly contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and $50m. in civil society and infrastructure funds - was already budgeted as part of the current year's spending, well ahead of Monday's speech.
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