This bill provides the supplemental funding requested by President Obama to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through FY2009. Included with the war funding is much of Obama’s request for aid to the West Bank and Gaza in the wake of Operation Cast Lead, pledged by Secy. of State Hillary Clinton at a donor’s conference in Sharm al-Shaykh on 2 March 2009. $31 m. of the $150 m. requested for Migration and Refugee Assistance was not included. Most of the aid is to be channeled to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and to U.S. programs in the West Bank in order to improve services (e.g., health, water, sanitation, and education), promote economic development and investment, and increase public confidence in PA institutions. The bill does include money for humanitarian and reconstruction aid that will bypass Hamas and be delivered directly by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), NGOs, and United Nations agencies operating in Gaza. Also included is a Foreign Military Financing grant to Israel.
The aid is appropriated to the following spending accounts:
Economic Support Fund (ESF): Provides a total of $551 m. for the West Bank and Gaza. While the bill itself does not specify how the funds are to be spent, President Obama’s supplemental funding request and the supplemental funding justification provided to Congress by the State Department and USAID provide a breakdown of how the funds are intended to be used.
$395 m. is for the West Bank: $200 m. for cash transfer to the Palestinian Authority treasury account (the United States retains prior approval of any transactions from the account and a three-year power of audit over these funds). The remainder is for USAID programs carried out by NGOs operating in the West Bank: $93 million for institutional capacity building, education, and social services; $60 million to promote economic growth; $30 m. to support governance and rule of law; and $12 m. for humanitarian assistance.
$156 m. is for Gaza: $61 m. for immediate humanitarian and food relief; $54 m. to restore essential education and health services provided by NGOs and private organizations; $20 m. to repair household level agriculture infrastructure, increase domestic food supply, and reduce the cost of food; $6 m. for community improvement and rebuilding projects in ‘non-Hamas municipalities and communities’; and $15 m. to replenish USAID West Bank program funds that were granted to NGOs for humanitarian assistance during and immediately after Operation Cast Lead. The State Dept. and USAID funding justification states that ‘implementation of programs in Gaza is dependent on the establishment of a durable ceasefire, the creation of an operating environment in which Hamas does not interfere with [U.S.]-funded programs and activities, and the ability to move essential materials and commodities into Gaza.’
The bill stipulates that from the above funds $2 m. is to be transferred to the Office of Inspector General of USAID and $1 m. is to be transferred to the State Department’s Office of Inspector General, all for oversight of programs in the West Bank and Gaza. None of this aid may be used to pay salaries of PA personnel in Gaza.
International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE): Provides $109 m. to ‘train, equip, and garrison the Presidential Guard and Special Battalions of the National Security Forces to crackdown on terrorism’ and ‘bolster and backstop the efforts of the Palestinian Civilian Police to maintain law and order.’ The secy. of state is required to submit a report on the training, curriculum, and equipment provided; an assessment of the effectiveness of the training and performance after completion of the training; and an assessment of factors that limit the capabilities of the forces trained.
Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR): Provides $50 m. to Egypt to enhance security along the Gaza border. The bill directs the