US churches welcome Senate decision to continue aid to Palestinians


The ecumenical umbrella group Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) has welcomed the news that the US government has decided against plans that would have cut $440,000million in aid to the Palestinian Authority.

On Monday, the Senate removed three amendments to a defense spending bill that would have reduced or eliminated essential funding for hospitals, schools, water, and electricity. This was a response to UN action last Thursday to upgrade the PA's status in the General Assembly.

Thousands of churches and individual church members sent messages urging the Senate to reconsider the plan. (See: ICN 3 December 2012 US Churches say No to Palestinian aid cuts! www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=21554 )

Today it was announced that the cuts will not take place.

Rev Doris Warrell, CMEP Field Director, said in a message to members: "Thank you for acting so quickly to make your voice heard. The funding in question included $370 million for budget support for the Palestinian Authority. This funding is essential to humanitarian programs such as the Augusta Victoria Hospital (a project of Lutheran World Federation) in East Jerusalem. In addtion, $70 million would have been cut in aid for security programs that have been essential to enabling the PA to police the West Bank and cooperate with Israel to reduce terrror attacks. Absent this funding, conditions could have quickly deteriorate and further complicated the Obama Administration's efforts to bring the two parties together.

"Your efforts prove again that working together, justice can prevail, and peace IS possible!!"

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