They Say We Say: "U.S. taxpayers should not be asked to send money to the Palestinians."

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

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Why should the U.S. care about Israeli-Palestinian peace?

They Say:

U.S. taxpayers should not be asked to send money to the Palestinians. The Palestinians just steal or waste the money, or use it to fund anti-Israel incitement and the like.

We Say:

U.S. law has long barred direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA), unless the President determines that such assistance is necessary for U.S. national security. In this case, the law then requires extensive reporting to Congress on how the funds are used and accounted for. Otherwise, U.S. assistance is provided directly to the Palestinian people through non-governmental organizations. Here, too, Congress has over the years piled on an ever-increasing number of far-reaching conditions and oversight requirements on all such assistance. Today, assistance to the Palestinians is arguably the most conditioned, restricted, audited, and monitored U.S. aid program in the world.

Subject to these conditions, U.S. assistance plays an important role in building a Palestinian society ready and able to live, as a state, side-by-side with Israel in peace and with security - a clear U.S. national interest. Today, the U.S. provides funding for, among other things, humanitarian projects, civil society programs, and training to bolster Palestinian moderate leadership and enable the PA to continue to build its security capacity. U.S. aid also has an important multiplier effect, with other countries viewing U.S. aid as a positive signal that they, too, should provide assistance.  In addition, U.S. humanitarian assistance sends an important signal to the Palestinian people that the United States cares about the welfare of innocent civilians whose lives have been caught up in a larger political conflict.

Continued assistance to the Palestinians is important to Israel and the cause of peace. It is vital that Congress leaves intact the President's authority to waive restrictions on aid to the PA, as he deems necessary and with proper reporting to Congress. Perennial efforts to add gratuitous new conditions, restrictions, and oversight requirements to Palestinian assistance are misguided, and Americans and their elected officials must recognize the difference between legitimate accountability concerns and over-burdensome requirements that undermine the aid program altogether.