Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014

November 20, 2013
January 17, 2014
Became Public Law

This omnibus appropriations bill was passed to fund the government through the end of FY 2014 (9/30/14). With regards to Palestinian affairs and the wider Arab-Israeli conflict, it includes budget restrictions and appropriations for direct military aid, economic support, and aid provided by U.S. government agencies.

The bill was developed in a bipartisan reconciliation committee and based largely on an agreement struck between congressional leaders in early 2014, which reflected budget appropriations found in earlier versions of the legislation in both the House (H.R. 2855 of 7/30/13) and the Senate (S. 1372 of 7/25/13).

Assistance to Israel

A total of $3.1 b. is provided to Israel in FMF grants, a return to presequester levels of aid, including $815.3 m. for Israel’s acquisition of domestically-made weapons and military equipment. (In a situation unique among all the recipients of U.S. military aid, Israel may spend some 25% of U.S. aid it receives on its own domestic arms suppliers, and may even have U.S. weapons purchases built with Israeli components.) Unlike every other FMF recipient, Israel is guaranteed early disbursement, within 30 days of the bill becoming law.

This bill earmarks funding for joint U.S.-Israel missile defense programs at the same level as that authorized in the NDAA for 2014 (*H.R. 3304 of 10/22/13).

From the Migration and Refugee Assistance fund, $15 m. was designated to resettle emigrants from Eastern Europe.

A sum of $13,000 in interest and earnings from the program’s endowment is designated for the activities of the Israeli Arab Scholarship Program.

Furthermore, subject to the president assuring Congress that there are compelling national security reasons to do so, the bill allows for certain defense articles to be leased rather than sold to Israel.

In a perennial provision, the secretary of state is required to report on any U.S. contributions to the UNHRC and on steps taken by the Council to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item.

Funding for the PA and Programs in the West Bank and Gaza

As in years past, no specific funds were earmarked in this category. Instead, the reconciliation committee directed the State Dept. and USAID to comply with the committee reports accompanying the House and Senate versions of this bill (H.R. 2855 of 7/30/13 and S. 1372 of 7/25/13, respectively). The State Dept., however, requested $440 m. to be appropriated to the PA and to Palestinian programs in the West Bank and Gaza, specifically: $70 m. for PA security from the INL program budget, including $54 m. in training programs as well as the provision of nonlethal equipment and garrison assistance to the PASF in the West Bank and $16 m. for rule-of-law training for prosecutors and police, and human rights training for personnel in charge of PA prisons. Some $370 m. was designated in ESF for direct transfer to the PA in the form of USAID grants in the West Bank and Gaza, a slight increase from FY 2013, which was subject to a sequester cut. The ESF total breaks down further into the following ‘key interventions.’

-$40 m. to fund programs designed to increase access to drinking water;
-$25 m. for capacity-building of PA ministries;
-$25 m. to increase the competitiveness of businesses (particularly in tourism, marble and stone, agriculture, and information technologies);
-$20 m. to distribute food to vulnerable nonrefugee Palestinian families;
-$10 m. to strengthen the Palestinian Ministry of Health, including increased focus on information systems;
-$9.5 m. to improve education in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, both in terms of access and quality;
-Unspecified totals for improving transportation infrastructure; and
-Unspecified totals for direct budget support to the PA for the purpose of paying off commercial debt.

As in previous years, aid to the Palestinians is designed to meet humanitarian needs, foster stability and self-governance, and prevent terrorism against Isra

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