This bill provides funding for most of the federal government, including the State Dept. and foreign operations, for FY 2012. The bill largely granted the Obama administration’s request to fund its programs in Palestine, military assistance commitments to Israel, and related activities in the region. It also adds new restrictions on aid to the Palestinians.
Funding for the PA, and West Bank and Gaza programs:
Provides a total of $513 m. for the PA, PA security forces, and development programs in the West Bank and Gaza. Additional funding for UNRWA is allowed but the bill does not specify a dollar amount. Of note, no funds were earmarked in the bill for the Palestinians as in years past. Instead, conference committee members granted the President’s funding request obliquely by directing the State Dept. and USAID to comply with the Senate Appropriations Committee report accompanying another bill, S. 1601 of 9/22/11 (Senate report 112-85). The Senate report specifies the overall funding levels for economic and security assistance listed below.
Economic assistance: $200 m. from the Economic Support Fund (ESF) was requested by the State Dept. for direct transfer to the PA treasury account. The U.S. retains prior approval of any transactions from the PA treasury account and a three-year power of audit over these funds. U.S. assistance is used by the PA to pay debt to creditors or suppliers of consumer commodities vetted and deemed eligible by the Dept. of State.
Another $200.4 m. in ESF funds is for programs developed by USAID and carried out primarily by U.S.-based NGOs, but also by international organizations and local and international NGOs. The State Dept. explained in its request for the funds that US assistance is intended to ‘strengthen the PA as a credible partner in Middle East peace,’ ensure its fiscal viability, promote economic growth, strengthen public institutions and meet humanitarian needs. Programs in the West Bank tend to focus on economic, infrastructure, and social development programs, while those in Gaza primarily provide humanitarian aid such as food assistance through the UN World Food Program. Aid to Gaza is further vetted to ensure that it is delivered only through U.S., international, or local NGOs, or municipalities not controlled by foreign terrorist organizations.
The State Dept requested the funding to spend as follows:
$56.172 to support the Palestinian health sector. This includes $10 m. to for maternal and child health programs including treatment of obstetric complications and disabilities, and newborn care. $5 m. for programs to prevent and treat noncommunicable diseases including diabetes and cancer.
$53.228 m. for economic programs aimed at increasing competitiveness in the agribusiness, tourism, marble and stone, and information technology industries; increase access to credit and reshaping financial regulations; assisting the PA in developing tax and regulation policies that promote strong economic growth; upgrading vocational and technical schools; and improve freedom of movement within the West Bank by improving efficiency on the Palestinian side of check points
$47.5 m. for humanitarian assistance programs intended, in part, to ‘lay the groundwork for recovery’ in Gaza by delivering food aid, rebuilding Gaza’s agricultural sector, supporting local businesses, and addressing housing, employment, educational, health, psychosocial and other development needs there.
$41.172 m. to develop new water sources, replace and repair water infrastructure and improve access to water and sanitation facilities (note that funding for water projects overlaps with others listed here). This includes efforts to rehabilitate and expand sewage systems and upgrade sanitation systems at schools, health clinics, and other public facilities.
$20 m. for programs to improve the PA’s delivery of services by modernizing ministries, refurbish customer service centers, and