WASHINGTON – Nearly $60 million in U.S. aid to help the Palestinian security forces has cleared congressional hurdles and is now ready to spend, the State Department said Tuesday.
The $59 million package, reduced from $86 million over concerns that some money might go to radical groups, met with no objections from lawmakers and will soon be on its way to security apparatus controlled by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, spokesman Sean McCormack said.
The department notified Congress of the revised package on March 23 and under rules for such notifications, the program is implemented 15 days later unless lawmakers file objections ahead of the deadline.
"No senator or representative put a hold on the money and therefore, we can proceed with that program," McCormack said.
The money includes $43.4 million in non-lethal training and equipment for Abbas' presidential guard and $16 million to upgrade to the Karni Crossing, the only cargo crossing from Palestinian territory in the Gaza Strip into Israel.
The cut from $86 million reflects a decision not to fund elements of the Palestinian national security forces that do not directly report to Abbas or that have unclear control and command structures.
Lawmakers had raised fears that U.S. funds could go to forces loyal to Hamas, with whom Abbas has forged a coalition government and the United States considers a terrorist organization, prompting the reduction.