[House Hearing, 112 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
PROMOTING PEACE? REEXAMINING U.S. AID TO THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY
THE MIDDLE EAST AND SOUTH ASIA
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
JULY 12, 2011
Serial No. 112-51
Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.foreignaffairs.house.gov/
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
67-381PDF WASHINGTON : 2011
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing
Office Internet: bookstore.gpo.gov Phone: toll free (866) 512-1800; DC
area (202) 512-1800 Fax: (202) 512-2104 Mail: Stop IDCC, Washington, DC
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida, Chairman
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
DAN BURTON, Indiana GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
ELTON GALLEGLY, California ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American
DANA ROHRABACHER, California Samoa
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California BRAD SHERMAN, California
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
RON PAUL, Texas GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
MIKE PENCE, Indiana RUSS CARNAHAN, Missouri
JOE WILSON, South Carolina ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
CONNIE MACK, Florida GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
JEFF FORTENBERRY, Nebraska THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas DENNIS CARDOZA, California
TED POE, Texas BEN CHANDLER, Kentucky
GUS M. BILIRAKIS, Florida BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
JEAN SCHMIDT, Ohio ALLYSON SCHWARTZ, Pennsylvania
BILL JOHNSON, Ohio CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY, Connecticut
DAVID RIVERA, Florida FREDERICA WILSON, Florida
MIKE KELLY, Pennsylvania KAREN BASS, California
TIM GRIFFIN, Arkansas WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina
ANN MARIE BUERKLE, New York
RENEE ELLMERS, North Carolina
Yleem D.S. Poblete, Staff Director
Richard J. Kessler, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio, Chairman
MIKE PENCE, Indiana GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
JOE WILSON, South Carolina GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
JEFF FORTENBERRY, Nebraska THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
ANN MARIE BUERKLE, New York DENNIS CARDOZA, California
RENEE ELLMERS, North Carolina BEN CHANDLER, Kentucky
DANA ROHRABACHER, California BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois ALLYSON SCHWARTZ, Pennsylvania
CONNIE MACK, Florida CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY, Connecticut
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
GUS M. BILIRAKIS, Florida
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania
C O N T E N T S
The Honorable Jacob Walles, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State,
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Department of State............ 7
Lieutenant General Mike Moeller, United States Security
Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority,
Department of State............................................ 12
The Honorable George A. Laudato, Administrator's Special
Assistant for the Middle East, U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID)............................................ 17
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
The Honorable Jacob Walles: Prepared statement................... 9
Lieutenant General Mike Moeller: Prepared statement.............. 14
The Honorable George A. Laudato: Prepared statement.............. 19
Hearing notice................................................... 44
Hearing minutes.................................................. 45
The Honorable Gerald E. Connolly, a Representative in Congress
from the Commonwealth of Virginia: Prepared statement.......... 46
PROMOTING PEACE? REEXAMINING U.S. AID TO THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY
TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2011
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on the Middle East
and South Asia,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 o'clock a.m.,
in room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Steve Chabot
(chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. Chabot. The committee will come to order. Good morning.
I want to welcome all my colleagues to this hearing of the
Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. This hearing
was called to assess the Obama administration's aid policy to
the Palestinian Authority and to take stock of the challenges
we continue to face.
On January 22, just 2 days after his inauguration,
President Obama appointed Senator George Mitchell as Special
Envoy to the Middle East. Two and a half years later, just days
after accepting Senator Mitchell's resignation, President Obama
reiterated his belief that the resolution of the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict is one of America's core interests in the
Throughout these 2\1/2\ years, assistance to the
Palestinian Authority has consistently remained a central
pillar of the administration's policy toward the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict. Unfortunately, recent developments on the
ground require that we reassess our current policy trajectory
and, if necessary, adjust accordingly.
I recently traveled to Israel and the West Bank where I was
able to once again gain firsthand knowledge of our efforts
there. Unfortunately, however, some of the challenges we face
appear to intensify by the day.
The current Palestinian leadership appears all too willing
to sacrifice the tremendous gains that have been achieved by
Prime Minister Fayyad's state building effort in the name of
Instead of capitalizing on those gains through honest
negotiations with Israel, the Palestinian leadership appears
dead set on pursuing a unilateral declaration of independence
before the U.N. General Assembly this September. True Israeli-
Palestinian peace will only be made between two peoples,
Israelis and Palestinians, and not the other 191 other members
of the General Assembly.
The road to Palestinian statehood does not start in New
York, and it is not the place for the United States or the
United Nations nor any other country or institution to short
circuit the requisite negotiations between the two parties. A
unilateral declaration of independence is simply rejectionism
by another name.
Similarly, the recent unity agreement between Hamas and
Fatah is a very troubling development. I was, in fact, in
Ramallah discussing with Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad his
tremendously important state building efforts when this
agreement was likely agreed upon, apparently without the
blessing or maybe even the knowledge, of Prime Minister Fayyad.
Shortly thereafter, I had the opportunity to meet with
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who expressed grave concern
both for Israel's security as well as for the prospects for
peace. ``How,'' he asked us, ``could the Palestinian leadership
be a serious partner for peace if it welcomed into its ranks
vicious terrorists who continue to deny the very right of the
state of Israel to exist?'' His concern is more than justified.
Although very few details have emerged since this document
was signed, and although it does not appear much has changed on
the ground, the mere presence of this agreement raises serious
concerns that, regrettably, we must now address.
The Palestinian Antiterrorism Act of 2006 very clearly
stipulates conditions that must be met in order for U.S.
assistance to continue, including that any Palestinian
Government accept the three Quartet principles: Acknowledging
Israel's right to exist; renouncing violence; and agreeing to
abide by past agreements.
No U.S. taxpayer money can or should go to a Palestinian
Government that does not embrace these three simple principles.
For years, we have invested heavily both money and effort to
help the Palestinians build a state for themselves, and our
work has yielded results. The economy in the West Bank
continues to improve. Parents are able to send their children
out at night.
Israelis have felt comfortable making concessions on
security that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago.
In no small part, this is due to the hard work of the United
States Security coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian
General Moeller, I would like to thank you for your
continued service to our country. I am extremely impressed with
the program that you are running, as well as the
professionalism of the soldiers who are trained in it, and
although I may have my concerns, given recent developments, it
would be extremely unfortunate if we were to have to end this
important program because of an irresponsible decision by those
who would prefer the path of rejection to the path of peace.
We are rapidly approaching a watershed moment in U.S.-
Palestinian relations. Both the reconciliation government and
the pursuit of a unilateral declaration of independence at the
U.N. could not be more contrary to U.S. interests in the
The fact remains that rejectionist elements within the
Palestinian leadership still refuse to sit and negotiate in
good faith, even as Israel repeatedly reiterates its commitment
to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Israel, like the United States, welcomes those who would
make peace even as it fights those who would make war. Time and
again, Israel has demonstrated its commitment to a Palestinian
state, living as its neighbor in peace and security, but there
are no shortcuts on the path to this outcome, and there is no
getting around the hard concessions that will have to be made.
Although short term security may be achievable unilaterally,
peace is not. Palestinian rejectionism, whether by Hamas or
Fatah, must be abandoned.
I would now like to yield to the distinguished gentleman
from New York, the ranking member of the committee, formerly
the chair of the committee, Mr. Ackerman.
Mr. Ackerman. I thank the chairman very much for a very,
very important hearing, and a personal welcome to our very,
very distinguished experts today.
The first question we should consider at today's hearing is
which Palestinian Authority we are talking about, since there
appears to be two of them. This entity is quite apart from
Hamas, which is a de facto authority in Gaza by way of
perpetuating a military coup. The PA itself exhibits the kind
of contradictory behavior that, in a person, might be diagnosed
as a split personality disorder.
So what do we make of this Jekyll and Hyde government? On
the one hand, under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas
and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the PA has ceased to be a
coordinator and instigator of terror, and now combats it with
growing efficacy and professionalism. On the other, Abu Mazen,
as President Abbas is also known, has agreed to a unity
agreement with the blood-soaked terrorists in Hamas who have
never--not even for the briefest of moments--never considered
or diminished or revised their insistence on Israel's utter
annihilation, and the glory of using violence against Israeli
This political reconciliation agreement may well never be
implemented as both major political Palestinian factions, Abu
Mazen's Fatah, and the terrorist Hamas, may have a greater
interest in the concept of reconciliation than its
implementation. Nonetheless, I would suggest to the PA
leadership that, when you get into a cage with a tiger, you are
not a partner. You are a lunch.
Fatah leaders may think they have worked out a deal for a
merger. They should consider the possibility that their more
vicious counterparts in Hamas think they have got a deal for an
acquisition. Abu Mazen, the PLO and his Fatah faction are all
officially in favor of peace, support the Oslo Accord and the
other subsequent Israel-Palestinian agreements.
I, like many of my colleagues, have often met with and
spoken with Abu Mazen, his key advisors, and Prime Minister
Fayyad, as recently as 2 weeks ago. It becomes obvious
immediately that their goal is to create a Palestinian state
living side by side with Israel. These are men interested in
creating a new Palestinian state, not in destroying the
existing Israeli one. Nevertheless, as continues to be
regularly documented, the PA, Abu Mazen's Fatah faction, and
senior Fatah leaders continue to glorify terrorists and fail to
recognize in ways both large and small Israel's existence and
its right to live in peace and security.
Incitement and the ongoing failure of Palestinian leaders
to speak frankly with the Palestinian public about the need for
give and take in negotiations continues to raise questions
about Palestinian intentions. It is long past time for this
convenient ambiguity to be resolved clearly and finally
regarding the unacceptability of violence and the need for
sacrifices on both sides to achieve peace.
While Abu Mazen may continue to insist that Palestinians
are still committed to directly negotiating a two-state
solution to the conflict with Israel, his actions demonstrate a
very different and dangerous alternative approach. The current
Palestinian campaign to seek bilateral recognition around the
world, culminating in September with an effort to force a vote
in the U.N. on Palestinian statehood, is fraught with peril for
all parties concerned, most of all the Palestinians.
The Palestinian leadership seems to be running headlong off
a cliff, because it can't figure out how to do what they
probably already know would be best, to sit down to direct
negotiations with Israel. So we in the United States, as the
chief sponsor of the peace process and Israel's key ally, need
to figure out where we, in light of our own fiscal reality,
have to draw some red lines to get this process back on track
and to keep it from getting out of control.
I would suggest that there should be three requirements for
our assistance, based not only on our interest in sound policy
but consistent with our own current political reality.
First, this reconciliation deal was, is, and will remain a
bad idea. Palestinians may like the idea of their leaders all
getting along, and may be willing to live with the
contradiction of a government half-committed to peace and half-
committed to attacking school buses with anti-tank missiles,
but we are not, and we never will be. As a matter of both law
and basic decency, we will never do business with or provide
aid to a government controlled by or reporting to terrorists,
period, full stop.
Number two: If you represent a party that says it is in
favor of peaceful negotiations, then it is not unreasonable to
expect you to engage in direct negotiations for peace. Abu
Mazen, Prime Minister Netanyahu is waiting for you. A proposed
initiative to force the issue of statehood at the U.N. is a
clear and material breach of the Oslo Accords and a dangerous
proposition for all parties. It needs to be shelved, and direct
talks need to begin.
No one but the Palestinian leadership is forcing the issue
to the U.N., and no one but the Palestinian leadership can pull
the plug on this misbegotten idea. American aid is intended to
support the peace process. If the Palestinian leadership
unwisely chooses to abandon that process in favor of running
after the illusion of statehood at the U.N., that decision will
likely come with an annual price tag in the hundreds of
millions of dollars and, more expensively, the loss of any
claim to common sense.
Finally, the PA needs to get its act together with regard
to its public communications, media approach, and official
attitude regarding peace and the use of violence. The view of
its senior leaders in favor of peaceful negotiations needs to
be consistently represented in all areas in which the PA acts,
whether in the PA media outlets, the naming of streets or grant
awards, or school books.
The PA can't wink and nod at the glorification of terrorism
here and there, and expect the word not to get out, and that it
will not have consequences. Incitement is not a phony issue. It
speaks to intentions and undermines confidence in the
Palestinian leadership which, given the issues of
reconciliation and the U.N. initiative, is already severely
Since 2000, Israeli Governments under Prime Ministers Barak
and Olmert have offered Palestinians full blown peace offers.
Prime Minister Sharon orchestrated Israel's unilateral
withdrawal from Gaza, and Prime Minister Netanyahu instituted
the first ever freeze on settlements solely as an act of good
faith. It is time for Abu Mazen to find the same kind of
courage in his own convictions, and find a way to get back to
the negotiating table. History is waiting for him. Thank you,
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much. If other members of the
panel would like to ask questions, we would be happy to give
members 1 minute. The gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Marino,
were you interested in making a statement? Okay, thank you. Mr.
Cardoza from California is recognized for 1 minute.
Mr. Cardoza. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just wanted to say
that I associate myself with the remarks of the chairman and
the ranking member entirely. I also was in Israel speaking to
Mr. Fayyad on nearly the day that Hamas and the PA reconciled,
and I think it is an abomination.
I don't support any further funding if they continue this
process. I think we need to cease and desist. We can't be a
party to providing dollars to terrorist organizations and to
organizations who commit themselves to the destruction of the
state of Israel. I won't vote for it, and I will work with the
chair and others to lead the charge against it, if they
continue along this path.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much. The gentleman from South
Carolina, Mr. Duncan, is a member of the full committee, not a
member of this subcommittee, but asking unanimous consent that
he be at the end of each on our side, be able to either make a
statement or ask questions. Without objection. So ordered. Mr.
Duncan, would you like to make a 1-minute opening statement?
Mr. Duncan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank the committee
for allowing me to participate today. I sent a letter around
for other members to sign. This letter would be to the chairman
of the House Committee on Appropriations, Mr. Rogers, basically
requesting that in the upcoming appropriations process the
committee restrict funding from going to the Palestinian
So this is a very timely issue for me, and I appreciate the
opportunity to participate, and I would ask other members of
the committee to consider signing that letter. The deadline is
close of business this Friday. Thank you.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much. And the gentleman from New
York, Mr. Higgins, is recognized for 1 minute.
Mr. Higgins. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and ranking member. I,
too, want to associate my thoughts to your statements and that
of the ranking member, in that negotiating with the Palestinian
Authority is not complicated by the integration of Hamas, its
various groups. It obliterates its viability.
When we look at the toughest places and toughest
neighborhoods throughout the world, the precondition toward a
negotiated settlement has always been renouncing violence and
recognizing your adversary's right to exist. That is a
fundamental basis from which you develop a peace agreement.
The involvement of Hamas or the integration of Hamas
seriously undermines the credibility of the Palestinian
Authority to negotiate in good faith toward a peaceful
settlement. So I look forward to the expert testimony of our
witnesses. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much. The gentleman from
Virginia, Mr. Connolly, is recognized for 1 minute.
Mr. Connolly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The recent
reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas caught the attention of
the international community. Last week's passage of the House
Resolution 268 by an overwhelming vote of 407 to 16 displays
the overwhelming support for the firm belief that any
Palestinian unity government must publicly and formally
foreswear terrorism, accept Israel's right to exist, and
reaffirm previous agreements already made with Israel.
The resolution also reaffirmed the United States' statutory
requirement precluding assistance for a Palestinian Authority
that includes Hamas unless and until the PA and all of its
ministers abide by the three previously mentioned conditions,
which have long been part of the United States' Middle East
When examining this policy, it is important to closely
scrutinize one of those key components, economic aid, designed
to facilitate basic services for the future. I look forward to
the testimony this morning, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for
holding this hearing.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much. I would like to introduce
our very distinguished panel here this morning at this time,
and we will start with Jacob Walles who is the Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, responsible for
U.S. policy with respect to Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria,
Lebanon, and the Palestinians. In over 25 years with the State
Department, he has been an active participant in Middle East
peace efforts dating back to the 1991 Madrid Conference. From
September 2009 to June 2010, Mr. Walles was the Cyrus Vance
Fellow for Diplomatic Studies at the Council on Foreign
Relations. Before that, he served as U.S. Consul General and
Chief of Mission in Jerusalem from July 2005 to August 2009.
Mr. Walles also served as Director of the Office of Israel and
Palestinian Affairs from 1998 to 2001, and as Deputy Principle
Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem from 1996 to
1998. We welcome you here this morning.
Next, I would like to introduce General Moeller, General
Michael Moeller. Lieutenant General Moeller is the U.S.
Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
He is responsible to the Secretary of State for assisting the
Palestinian Authority to transform and professionalize its
security sector, advocating for security initiatives that build
trust and confidence, and supporting whole-of-government
efforts to set the conditions for a negotiated two-state
General Moeller received his commission from the U.S. Air
Force Academy in 1980. Prior to his current assignment, he was
the Director for Strategy, Plans and Policy for U.S. Central
Command. General Moeller is a command pilot with more than
4,440 flying hours and 670 combat hours for Operations Desert
Storm, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom, and we welcome you
here this morning, General, and thank you very much for your
service, sir, to our country.
Last but not least is George A. Laudato. Mr. Laudato leads
the Middle East Bureau as the Administrator's Special Assistant
for the Middle East at the U.S. Agency for International
Development, USAID. He has more than 45 years of experience in
international program development and management in the private
and public sectors in Asia, the Middle East, Latin American,
and Central Europe.
From 1998 to 2007, Mr. Laudato was Managing Senior Vice
President of the International Health Area at Abt Associates,
directing programs across 40 projects and more than 350
employees worldwide. Prior to joining Abt, Mr. Laudato served
for 29 years with USAID where he directed major regional and
policy bureaus and led country missions. He was Deputy
Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Asia and the Near
East from 1991 to 1995, and we welcome you here, Mr. Laudato.
I am sure all the panel members are aware of the rules,
which basically give each of the witnesses here this morning 5
minutes, and there is a lighting system. The yellow light will
come on when you have 1 minute to wrap up, and we ask that when
the red light comes up, that you stop right on time or be
We will begin with Mr. Walles.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JACOB WALLES, DEPUTY ASSISTANT
SECRETARY OF STATE, BUREAU OF NEAR EASTERN AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT
Mr. Walles. Thank you, Chairman Cabot, Ranking Member
Ackerman, members of the committee. I am honored to be here
today to provide you with an overview of U.S. assistance to the
Palestinian Authority, and discuss how it promotes U.S.
national security interests. I will keep my remarks brief, and
I would ask that my full written statement be included in the
Mr. Chabot. Without objection, so ordered.
Mr. Walles. This administration believes that achieving
comprehensive Middle East peace is in the national security
interest of the United States. The administration has worked
vigorously to achieve a negotiated Israeli-Palestinian
agreement based on the core concept of two states for two
peoples: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the
Jewish people, and Palestine as the homeland for the
A just, lasting, and comprehensive peace between Israel and
all her neighbors is central to American interests in the
Middle East, and it has been the objective of every U.S.
administration dating back to President Harry Truman.
To that end, we have been working intensively with the
parties to resolve the issues between them through direct
negotiations. This administration, like those before it, has
been clear. Permanent status issues between Israel and the
Palestinians must be decided through direct negotiations
between the two sides, not at the United Nations or anywhere
Our assistance to the Palestinian people is guided by this
paramount U.S. national security interest. We strongly believe
that building Palestinian Government institutions and a viable
Palestinian economy serve our interests and are essential for
peace, the stability of the region, and the security of both
Israel and the Palestinians. Our programs are focused on
helping the Palestinians build institutions of government and
security forces that have gained the trust of the Palestinian
people and their Israeli counterparts.
As you know, institution building is a long and arduous
process. I have been involved in different aspects of our
assistance for the Palestinians for over two decades, starting
with President Ronald Reagan. In the 1990s after the first
Israeli-Palestinian agreements were signed, we began to support
the newly created Palestinian Authority. In the last decade, we
began a program to provide security assistance to the
Palestinian Authority with the creation of the United States
Security Coordinator in 2005. President Obama has continued
these efforts in his strong support for the security assistance
program and for our extensive economic and humanitarian
programs for the Palestinians.
Through our USAID programs, we are helping the PA to
improve public services. These activities are designed to help
the PA meet essential needs and to offer an alternative to
those who reject a two-state solution and seek to exploit human
suffering to radicalize the population and recruit supporters.
Our assistance to PA Security Forces has been critical to
the improved security situation in the West Bank. U.S. trained
PA Security Forces have worked effectively with their Israeli
counterparts to maintain stability in the West Bank. I recently
returned from a visit to Israel and the West Bank and had the
opportunity to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian
officials. The Israeli officials I met with confirmed that
Palestinian security efforts in the West Bank remain robust,
and Palestinian officials assured me this would remain the
case, regardless of political developments.
We strongly believe that the continuation of U.S.
assistance is essential to support a Palestinian Government
prepared to make peace with Israel. Nevertheless, as President
Obama has made clear, the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement
``raises profound and legitimate questions.'' Since the
agreement was signed in May, however, key issues have remained
unresolved between the two sides, and the agreement has not yet
been implemented. If a new PA Government emerges, we will
evaluate it carefully, and our assistance will be guided by all
relevant U.S. laws.
Let me be clear. In our decision making, the administration
will ensure the full implementation of U.S. law, but as of now,
the current PA Government under the direction of President
Abbas and headed by Prime Minister Fayyad remains in place.
President Abbas has made clear that he and his government
accept the Quartet's principles, and Prime Minister Fayyad
continues to make progress in building institutions and
maintaining security. For these reasons, we believe they
deserve our continued support.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I want to emphasize our view
that assistance to the Palestinian Authority and to the
Palestinian people is an important element in our effort to
advance U.S. national security interests in the Middle East. On
behalf of the administration, I thank you for the opportunity
to brief you on this program, and for your support for our
efforts. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Walles follows:]
Mr. Chabot. Thank you.
General Moeller, you are recognized for 5 minutes
STATEMENT OF LIEUTENANT GENERAL MIKE MOELLER, UNITED STATES
SECURITY COORDINATOR FOR ISRAEL AND THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY,
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
General Moeller. Thank you, sir. Mr. Chairman, Ranking
Member Ackerman, distinguished committee members, thank you for
inviting me here today. As United States Security Coordinator
for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, I have the privilege
of leading a 145-person joint, coalition and interagency team
that includes nine international partners, of which Canada and
the United Kingdom play critical leadership roles.
The 16 U.S. Department of Defense personnel form the heart
of this unique organization. These DoD members are assigned to
the State Department, and my boss is the Secretary of State. We
live in the region, with our headquarters in Jerusalem.
Before I talk about the detailed part of the program, I
would like to remind you that the Government of Israel approves
all aspects of U.S. support to the Palestinian Authority
Security Forces, and that the USSC would never advocate or
sponsor activities that could threaten Israeli security.
Additionally, our funding is separate from the $2.9 billion in
direct assistance to the State of Israel.
We use I&L funding to resource our security assistance
efforts, which is the core of what we do. The program assists
the PA in building the security force structure and
infrastructure, including the required equipment and training
needed to conduct the full range of missions currently allowed
under Israeli and Palestinian security agreements. The program
has enabled the Palestinian Security Forces to make significant
To date, almost 4800 Palestinian Authority troopers have
graduated from the U.S. supported Jordanian International
Police Training Center. All graduates receive extensive
professional skills training that emphasizes respect for human
rights, rule of law, and the proper use of force.
The West Bank training initiative focuses on other
specialty skills and leadership training and development.
Palestinian instructors teach these courses. To date, we have
seen 3500 service graduates.
We take a holistic approach. So we also focus on the
support infrastructure to match these force structure
improvements. This infrastructure includes garrison camps with
facilities and training areas required to maintain the security
force's professional skills; joint operations centers for joint
planning and command and control; and a national training
center in Jericho. All projects are on track and on budget.
This year, we are moving into the next phase of the
program, building Palestinian Authority security force
institutional capacity. In this phase, we will help the PASF
develop the indigenous capability to maintain and sustain their
force structure and infrastructure. The USSC also supports
other U.S. rule of law programs that assist the Palestinians to
improve the performance of their justice and corrections
Despite recent events, including the Fatah-Hamas
reconciliation, there have been no changes in personnel, no
changes in security practices on the ground and, I should
emphasize, no change in the chain of command. The current
Palestinian Authority Government under President Abbas retains
sole authority over the PASF.
Additionally, Palestinian Security Forces continue to
pursue bad actors across the West Bank, including members of
Hamas. Security coordination is still very strong, and the
Government of Israel continues to support our security
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Security Forces just sent 50
civil defenders to Jordan, including firefighters and ambulance
drivers, for basic training. Last week, the Government of
Israel approved the next deployment of the National Security
Force's Special Battalion, which includes 500 Palestinian
recruits, to begin their basic training in Jordan.
As you know, militaries do not relax a security regime
without a trusted, capable partner. In the last year, the
Israelis have dramatically reduced the number of manned
checkpoints and cut the number of combat brigades assigned to
the West Bank. The PASF performance during the May 15 and June
5 demonstrations provide excellent examples of the growing
professionalism and competence of the Palestinian Authority
These forces deployed to troubled areas, coordinated
effectively across the military services, and expertly
conducted their assigned missions. As a result, there was very
little violence and limited criminal activity during those
In conclusion, we deeply appreciate your continued support
for this critical program with a demonstrated record of
success. The consensus is that the Palestinian Authority
Security Forces is becoming an effective professional force,
and that we must maintain our security assistance efforts.
We understand the challenges and uncertainty ahead, but we
believe that the USSC mission enables regional stability,
enhances Israeli security, improves the lives of the
Palestinian people and, most importantly, supports U.S.
national security interests. Thank you, sir.
[The prepared statement of General Moeller follows:]
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much, General.
Mr. Laudato, you are recognized.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE GEORGE A. LAUDATO, ADMINISTRATOR'S
SPECIAL ASSISTANT FOR THE MIDDLE EAST, U.S. AGENCY FOR
INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (USAID)
Mr. Laudato. Chairman Chabot, Ranking Member Ackerman,
distinguished members of the committee. Thank you for asking me
to testify today.
Mr. Chabot. Could you pull the mic just a little closer?
Thank you very much.
Mr. Laudato. Thank you for asking me to testify on this
timely and important topic today. I would like to highlight the
impact of the U.S. Government's economic assistance programs
and USAID's procedures to ensure that the programs reach their
With our colleagues throughout the U.S. Government, USAID
is supporting Palestinian efforts to create robust institutions
and a viable economy, essential to a future Palestinian state,
a state that will be a responsible neighbor and contribute to
regional peace, security, and stability.
Palestinian development efforts are based on a solid policy
framework for sectors like health, infrastructure, economic
growth and governance. These development policies provide a
very solid foundation for effective donor programs. The U.S.
Government's assistance program reinforces President Abbas' and
Prime Minister Fayyad's vision for a viable Palestinian state
that is responsive to the needs of its citizens.
I would like to highlight just a few examples of how USAID
programs support this vision and affect the lives of
Palestinians. The U.S. Government has supported long term
development of institutions necessary for a future Palestinian
state, living side by side with Israel, by promoting rule of
law, respect of human rights, and civil engagement.
At the municipal USAID helps the Palestinian Ministry of
Local Government to work effectively with local governments in
delivering essential services to residents and in promoting
community development through training officials in strategic
planning, accounting, outreach, and other key government and
management skills necessary for local governments.
We also support the Palestinian Authority's justice sector
strategy, and we are helping to strengthen performance and
credibility of the justice sector institutions. We are
increasing public knowledge of the rule of law and how to
engage the justice system, an essential element of any balanced
society. For example, USAID works to increase the legal
literacy among Palestinians. We foster broader support for an
effective and independent judiciary, and strengthen linkages
between professional and academic legal communities.
We have supported the development of water resources and
roads throughout the West Bank. USAID's assistance in
developing Palestinian capacity to manage scarce, fragile water
resources is key to this effort. This is an area of mutual
Palestinian and Israeli concern, and where there will be shared
benefits from the improved management of limited--very limited
We have also refurbished over 450 kilometers of roads in
the West Bank, making travel more commercially viable and
opening access to health and education services for all
residents. We are also helping to create jobs, increase
competitiveness of key economic enterprises, and increase
growth and opportunities across the region. USAID is working
with Israeli based offices of U.S. high tech firms, such as
Google, Sysco, and others, to help Palestinian firms integrate
into the global IT community, and we have generated $12 million
in investments with Palestinian counterparts under this
To ensure that USAID programs reach the intended
beneficiaries, USAID has designed a very stringent oversight
procedure that prevent inadvertent support going to foreign
terrorists organizations, including the Hamas controlled de
facto government in Gaza. Before awarding a contract or grant
to a local nongovernmental organization, USAID vets the
organization's key officers through the law enforcement and
intelligence systems, and checks the organization's lists
against the lists of the Office of Foreign Assets Control at
the U.S. Treasury.
Organizations applying for grants must also certify that
they do not provide material support for terrorism.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss
USAID's programs, and look forward to taking any questions that
you may have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Laudato follows:]
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much.
We appreciate the panel's testimony, all three, and at this
time I would begin the questioning myself. So I recognize
myself for 5 minutes.
Since the mid-1990s--this would be for you, Mr. Walles.
Since the mid-1990s, the U.S. Government has committed over $4
billion in bilateral assistance to the Palestinians.
Unfortunately, despite our commitment, the Arab countries of
the Middle East have not been so forthcoming. A recent news
story reported that the Palestinian Authority would only be
able to pay its employees half of their July salaries due to
the budget shortfall. The story further noted that, ``Of the
$971 million pledged by donors for this year, $330 million of
it has been paid so far, and Mr. Fayyad said the only Arab
countries that had fulfilled their pledges this year were the
United Arab Emirates, Algeria, and Oman.''
Frankly, I find it outrageous that Arab countries, who
claim to care so much about the plight of the Palestinians, are
not willing to put their money where their mouths are. How much
specifically have the Arab states contributed to help the PA
over the past few years, and do you believe the Arab states are
providing the appropriate levels of assistance to the
Palestinian Authority and, if not, why not?
Mr. Walles. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for that question.
According to the statistics that are maintained by the PA
Ministry of Finance, Arab countries have contributed about $1.8
billion in assistance to the Palestinian Authority since 2007.
Of the Arab donors, Saudi Arabia has contributed the most, $749
million since 2007.
What I would note, however, is that in recent years the
level of assistance from Arab donors has declined. Just to give
you some numbers, in 2009 the total amount provided to the PA
from Arab donors was $462 million. In 2010 that number was $287
million, and so far this year in 2011 the Arab states have
provided only $78.5 million. Of that amount, the largest
contribution has come from the United Arab Emirates. That is
$42.5 million. Algeria has provided $26 million, and Oman has
provided $10 million.
Clearly, the numbers provided--or the amounts of assistance
provided by the Arab states this year are not at the same
levels as before. This has contributed to the significant
problems that Prime Fayyad has faced, particularly in the past
month in meeting the needs of the Palestinian Authority.
You are correct. This month Prime Minister Fayyad has not
been able to pay full salaries. They have only been half-
salaries, and that is very worrisome. Those salaries, of
course, include the salaries of the security forces that are
being trained by General Moeller and his team. So this is very
worrisome. It is a matter that we have discussed over the years
with the Arab states. We will be discussing this with them
again, and urging them to at least meet the levels that they
have provided in past years, so that the Palestinian Authority
can continue to function.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you, and it seems the United States gets
a lot of criticism on us not being supportive enough for this
two-state solution, but they are getting a lot of lip service,
I think, from a lot of the Arab countries, and it needs to
Let me go into another question here quickly. The
Palestinian Authority has launched a campaign outside of direct
negotiations in order to win admission as a full member of the
United Nations, and is setting pre-conditions on final status
issues which are supposed to be resolved through direct
Will the administration pledge to veto any Security Council
resolution on Palestinian statehood, and can you assure us that
there will not be a last minute effort to issue a statement
that undercuts the very purpose of the veto, as happened,
unfortunately, back in February 2011?
Mr. Walles. Well, first, I think the President was very
clear in a speech he gave on May 22nd that we do not support
U.N. recognition of Palestinian statehood. We do not believe
that unilateral attempts by the Palestinians to deal with
permanent status issues in the United Nations or any other
international body is the correct path.
The correct path to achieve a two-state solution and to
create a Palestinian state is a path of direct negotiations,
and that is what we have been working hard with both the
Israelis and the Palestinians to accomplish. We believe that a
Palestinian state must emerge from these negotiations and
cannot be created by the United Nations. We have worked closely
with the parties on the negotiated outcome, and we have been
clear in our conversations with the Palestinians that we will
not support any unilateral effort of any kind in New York or in
any other international organization.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you for your answer, but I didn't hear
any specific--and it may be above your pay grade to pledge not
to recognize this and to veto any action at the United Nations,
and again the statement that was issued last February gave many
of us great concern about the administration. We appreciated
the veto. We didn't like the statement. You don't have to
respond. Thank you very much.
I yield to the gentleman from New York, the ranking member,
Mr. Ackerman, for 5 minutes.
Mr. Ackerman. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Just a
comment on the last observation. I would observe that President
Bush was the first President of the United States of America to
proclaim that there should be a Palestinian state, and I don't
know of any other President outside of President Obama who has
said that he would veto any vote in the United Nations
declaring the Palestinian state unless it was one that was
negotiated between the parties.
I am not saying that to find fault with either President,
because I think in both contexts they were each right. I have
to proceed, but I just wanted to make that clear, that we have
to come up with a common sense policy that is in the American
interest, that the parties themselves negotiate and live with.
It seems to me we have a dilemma. We have two parties,
mainly, within the Palestinian community. One is a terrorist
organization, and one that proclaims peace, and they each seem
to control a bit of real estate within the region.
Commonsensically, you can't make peace with half of a wannabe
country; with one that you are at peace with, and one that
claims that their reason for existence is to destroy you. It
just doesn't happen that way.
Everybody understands that they have got to get their act
together somehow, if they are going to be indeed, someday, a
country and speak with one voice. What that voice will be is
the question. So there seems to be international pressure for
them to get together, and now there is an international
pressure that they not--at least from this part of the world--
that they not get together, because of the identities that they
The only way to do it, one would think, is for one of them
to give up their identity, either the guys who want to make
peace, or the guys who want to destroy. What the world is
saying under our leadership is that the people who are looking
to make war have to give up their stripes, or their spots,
depending on how you want to describe it.
Can that happen? It seems to me that the Hamas faction only
agreed to go into this unity government out of weakness. They
are very concerned about what is happening in Syria. Do you
think that is going to happen?
Also, my understanding is that there have been no
appointments from the Hamas faction into this new proposed or
agreed-to coalition government. It is the same guys that have
been there all along, most of whom have no political party
affiliation, either with Fatah or Hams. There is probably a
couple of Fatah guys, but certainly no Hamas people. Is that a
Mr. Walles. Well, thank you, Mr. Ackerman. I think you make
a good point, that the Palestinian is divided, and it is hard
to make peace with a divided--the other side of the divided.
Our view has been that we are not opposed to the Palestinian
immunity, but Palestinian immunity only makes sense if it is a
road to peace and a negotiated outcome.
That is why we have insisted on the Quartet principles,
recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence, acceptance of
all previous agreements. So that is the kind of government that
could actually foster a two-state solution. That is why we have
been very clear with the Palestinians about how our laws apply
and the need to see that kind of government.
I would say that we have tried to, through our assistance
programs, indicate that there is a way, as we have seen in the
West Bank, where the Palestinians can take responsibility for
their affairs. They can provide security. They can provide
services to their people. That is a path that is a model toward
a Palestinian state that can live peacefully with Israel. The
model we have seen in Gaza is something that is highly
Mr. Ackerman. Let me ask you a second question in the few
seconds I have. The chairman has brilliantly put together a
most distinguished panel representing the humanitarian, the
security aspects, and the political aspects in our three expert
witnesses. We have to come up with a policy, should this thing
come together between, this so called merger between the Hamas
This is not a fairy tale. We don't have the wisdom of those
people who write those things, and we very rarely get it just
right. Either the porridge is too hot, or too cold; never just
right with the work that we do. We will either underreact or
overreact in our policy. What happens here--because I don't
think we are going to underreact--my view of our colleagues
suggests that we will probably, if that merger goes through,
without the Hamas people reforming, if I can use that word, is
that, likely as not, because of the U.N. and the merger, there
will be a cessation of aid.
What does that do to our humanitarian efforts? What does
that do, General, to the security efforts? What does that do to
our political inclinations, and does that become a disaster or
does that become a good policy?
Mr. Chabot. The gentleman's time has expired, but you can
answer the question.
Mr. Walles. Let me just provide a chapeau, and then I will
ask my colleagues to respond as well.
Just a few bits of background: The agreement between Hamas
and Fatah was signed in Cairo on May 4th. Since then, no aspect
of that agreement has been implemented. The first issue which
they have tackled is who would be the Prime Minister of the new
government, and they have reached an impasse on that. I think,
as you are aware, President Abbas has proposed that Salam
Fayyad continue as the Prime Minister. Hamas has not agreed to
that, and they have not been able to resolve that question.
None of the other issues that must be resolved--who else
would be in the government, a government program, or the
policies of that government--None of those things have been
agreed. So the prospects for this agreement are very uncertain.
I have learned not to predict the future in the Middle East,
but we have seen so far is that there are considerable problems
between Fatah and Hamas in implementing that agreement.
Now in terms of the implications, if there is an agreement,
we would certainly review any government that is formed based
upon our law. We would look at the composition of the
government. We would look at the government program, and we
would look at the policies of that government. In particular,
security would be an important factor that we would want to
Let me ask General Moeller to comment on that and how we
view things now and how we might factor that into our
consideration in the future.
General Moeller. Thank you, sir, for the question. If we
talk specifically about a cutoff of security assistance to the
Palestinians as an instantaneous policy, as you know, sir, it
would immediately halt our efforts to--our advise and assist
efforts to help the Palestinians institutionalize that
It will also stop our build, train, and equip efforts at a
time when we are beginning to transition them to the
Palestinian Authority, so that they can have that self-
sustainment capability to conduct professional security
I believe that both the Israelis and the Palestinians would
see it as a--It may not be as strong as a breach of faith, but
they certainly would be very, very concerned that we are not
continuing as their enduring security partners in this
important part of the Middle East peace process.
There is a negative regional aspect as well, as you know,
because the Jordanians, along with the Israelis and the
Palestinian Authority, have this trust and confidence circle
that really offers us opportunities rather than challenges. So
I would see a cutoff of security assistance in a negative light
All that being said, again in all of my discussions with
the senior Israeli general officers, they are adamant that we
need to continue to help the Palestinians build a professional
security force. In fact, they have been very helpful with
offering me all kinds of different options.
On the Palestinian Authority side, again we are at a very
pivotal moment in the security assistance program where we are
beginning to see that cultural, professional performance
institutionalized at the lower levels, as well as the
beginnings of an institutional depth in the ministerial levels
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much, General. Mr. Laudato, did
you have anything to add, briefly?
Mr. Laudato. Just that the level at which we work at the
institutional level is that it is the building block of a new
Palestinian state, and we would, obviously, ensure that the
full implementation of U.S. law--It would mean the end to that
kind of work, and also, therefore, I think, compromise the
environment that would be needed to move forward on any peace
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much. The gentleman from South
Carolina, Mr. Duncan, is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. Duncan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. If Hamas partisans do
not take a direct role in the Palestinian Authority's power
sharing government, but the movement is giving power to approve
of the government's composition, would the level of Hamas'
involvement disqualify the Palestinian Authority from continued
U.S. assistance? Mr. Walles?
Mr. Walles. Thank you. The standard in the law is a power
sharing government, or a government that would be controlled by
Hamas. So we would have to look very carefully, if there is a
new government, at how that is structured, what is the
composition, who are the ministers. Also we would look at
whether there are any other committees or anything else outside
the government itself that Hamas could use to exercise
influence over the government and its decision making. We would
also look as well at the legislative council where Hamas has a
majority, if that were to be revived.
So there are a number of actors that we would look at. We
would have to take all those things into consideration to see
whether there is any power sharing; in other words, whether
Hamas does have any role in making decisions in the government.
At this point, as I said, nothing in this agreement has
been implemented yet. There is no new government. So it is a
bit of a hypothetical question in terms of what the government
would be, but if there is a new government, we would certainly
look at it very carefully and, as I said earlier, we would
ensure that our law is fully and completely implemented.
Mr. Duncan. General Moeller, there was an article today in
Financial Times talking about the Quartet that is meeting on
the Middle East talks, and a senior Obama administration
official said that more work needs to be done to close the gaps
that exist before the Quartet can go forth publicly with the
kinds of statements that might enable the parties to break
through that impasse.
What sort of statements might be necessary in order to
break an impasse?
General Moeller. Sir, I would defer to my distinguished
colleague here to answer that question. I don't believe that
the Quartet principles we are talking about, capability gaps
when it came to the Palestinian Authority Security Forces or
concerns by the Israeli Defense Forces on where the gaps on the
security side need to be filled.
Mr. Walles. If I could, I will just answer briefly. We have
been very clear that the path forward to a peace agreement is
direct negotiation between the two sides, and we are trying to
create that as an alternative to any unilateral actions in New
York and elsewhere.
What we have been calling on the parties to do, both
ourselves and through the Quartet, is for both sides to return
to the direct negotiation on the basis of the speech the
President gave in May. We have been working with the Quartet in
a way to have that call come from the Quartet itself on both of
Yesterday there was a meeting of the Quartet. Secretary
Clinton led the U.S. delegation there. What we found, as you
referred to in your article, is that there continue to be gaps
between the two sides, and that is what sort of underlies the
difficulties we have got in trying to get back to a negotiating
process; but we are continuing those discussions. There are
meetings at a lower level as we speak among the Quartet to try
to find ways to submit a call to the Israelis and the
Palestinians to return to negotiations on that basis.
Mr. Duncan. You mentioned the speech in May, but Prime
Minister Netanyahu has said that the '67 border is
indefensible, and so the other side needs to come to the table,
I think, with something different than that.
The Quartet needs to come to the table with something
different than the 1967 borders. We need to see, I think, more
on the part of the Palestinian Authority coming closer to
recognizing the State of Israel and not continuing to have
Hamas fire missiles into--or rockets, rather, into the
territory. I think, just yesterday, there were more rockets
So one quick question I had: About 6,000 tons of food and
other aid goes into the Gaza Strip every day. Where does most
of that come from, just for my edification?
Mr. Walles. The food, the other things that are shipped
into Gaza--some of those are commercial purchases, as in any
other place, and some of those are donations financed by
international donors. We provide roughly $77 million in
assistance right now to projects in Gaza. These are
administered by USAID. It includes support for the U.N. Food
We also do a number of health care, education, and small
infrastructure projects. Everything that goes into Gaza for
these projects or anything else must pass through Israeli
checkpoints, and are inspected. So in order to implement these
projects in Gaza, we work closely with the Israeli authorities
to make sure that these bids can move in. Thereby, everything
we are doing in Gaza is supported by the Israeli Government.
In fact, as I mentioned, I was just in Israel and had some
meetings with the Ministry of Defense officials, and they all
expressed support not only for the programs that we are
implementing in Gaza, but also from other donors, from Europe,
from the World Bank, and from U.N. organizations as well.
Mr. Chabot. The gentleman's time has expired. The gentleman
from New York, Mr. Higgins, is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. Higgins. Thank you very much, Chairman. General
Moeller, you had indicated the Israeli officials have indicated
that help in building the Palestinian Security Force is
something that they continue to encourage. Is that in
recognition of this power sharing agreement between Hamas and
Fatah and the Palestinian Authority?
General Moeller. Thank you for the question, sir. Actually,
it is a result of, I believe, a longstanding appreciation for
the Palestinian Security Force capabilities. The PASF has
become very capable in ensuring--helping to ensure law and
order across the entire West Bank, and of course, when it comes
to the Israelis, especially in the Israeli Defense Force senior
leaders, they understand that having a stable, secure West Bank
is critically important to and reflects positively on Israeli
Mr. Higgins. But doesn't the inclusion of Hamas, bent on
the destruction of Israel, seriously compromise the credibility
of that effort?
General Moeller. Sir, as of the current date, there is no
Hamas participation in any parts of the government. There is no
participation by any members of Hamas in the Palestinian
Authority Security Forces, and----
Mr. Higgins. Right, but if they had a Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas
is accepting of a power sharing agreement. I presume that that
relationship, including the significant involvement of Hamas,
will evolve and serve to undermine the credibility of the
progress that has been made there, including especially in
terms of the security force.
General Moeller. Yes, sir. I think the Israelis, especially
the senior leaders--they have the same philosophy that we do.
Watch very closely as events unfold. Make sure that we are very
cautious as we continue to support and provide assistance to
the Palestinian Authority Security Forces, and with an
understanding that, if there is any change in the environment,
if there is any change in the willingness and the professional
performance of the Palestinians, then we will reevaluate our
That is, I think, consistent from the USSC perspective, as
well as from the Israeli perspective.
Mr. Higgins. When you look at the models throughout the
world--and unfortunately,. there are too few--certain
preconditions should exist, and if those parties don't agree to
those preconditions, our commitment should be substantially
I look at the situation in Northern Ireland. It was
required that Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army, to
participate in peace talks, had to renounce violence, had to
actually destroy their arms. International observers had to
observe the destruction of those arms before negotiations could
It seems to me that what this effort on the part of the
Palestinian Authority in this power sharing agreement--it lacks
credibility, because if you are looking for a peaceful
solution, a peaceful two-state solution, it would seem that all
of the parties included should agree to certain preconditions
that allow a basis for trust and understanding to allow the
peace profess to evolve, and that doesn't seem to exist here.
I yield back.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. And the
gentleman from California, Mr. Rohrabacher, is recognized for 5
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me
just note that my colleague who just finished his time was
actually touching on a very important approach, and maybe a
mistaken approach, that has been made in bringing peace to that
region. Seems to me, following up on your line of questioning,
that there is a difference between setting a precondition on
one's assistance versus maintaining assistance, even though the
parties who are receiving it are not necessarily committed to
changing the status quo.
So in one situation, actually, your assistance aids in
maintaining the unacceptable situation, versus saying, when you
do this or that, we are going to actually continue our aid,
which leads me to one point that I think--I'm sorry, I can't
pronounce your name.
Mr. Laudato. Laudato.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Okay. Probably still can't, but we are
talking about water. Would it be something that we could, for
example, set as a precondition that, if indeed there is an
agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, couldn't
we not set out our assistance in terms of water, saying we will
build you the water system you need, but we are not going to do
that until both parties have reached an agreement necessary for
Mr. Walles. Let me respond to your first point, and then I
will ask my colleague to talk about water a little bit.
One point I wanted to make clear is that we feel we have
accomplished a lot with the assistance programs that we have
run over the number of years with the Palestinians. Let me just
read one fact. This is related to our security program, and
this is information from the Israel Defense Forces, and it is
According to the IDF, the number of terrorist attacks in
the West Bank has decreased from 841 in 2005 to 36 in 2010.
This represents a 96 percent decrease in the number of
terrorist attacks in 5 years. Now that is, obviously,
significant, not just for the Palestinians. It is very
important for Israeli security. It is very much in our national
So we believe we have been accomplishing things. We are
not, in a sense, perpetuating an unacceptable status quo. We
are actually accomplishing things, and we don't want to lose
Mr. Rohrabacher. Let me note that 15 years ago the idea of
a two-state solution was not accepted by both parties, and both
parties seem to want--The Palestinian wanted Israel to
disappear, and the Israelis wanted the Palestinians to
disappear; and just the fact that we have got both sides now
supposedly agreeing to a two-state solution is a major step
forward, but let me just also amend that by saying it seems to
me the major stumbling block to peace right now is nothing more
or less than the Palestinians accepting that Israel has a right
to exist as a Jewish state, meaning that the Palestinians will
give up and just say, ``We do not believe in the right of
The moment that happens, you are going to have a huge step
forward in the cause of peace. I think that perhaps the $550
million we are giving to the Palestinians might be predicated
on you might think about making this public commitment.
Otherwise, we are not going to have another step forward like
we have, like you are suggesting today.
Mr. Walles. Thank you for those comments. We have, as I
said, been very clear with the Palestinians on the need to
return to direct negotiations. Those issues that you referred
to are issues that have to be negotiated between Israel and the
Palestinians. That is the only pathway to achieve the kind of
peace which the sides both say they want.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Let me put it this way. Once this idea of
the right of return is--they acknowledge that this is no longer
something that they believe in, at that point we are just
discussing what are the borders going to be between the
Palestinians and the Israelis, and whether or not there is
going to be resources like water available for both entities.
I would hope that our aid program is not letting people
just maintain their current situation in a status quo that is
unacceptable, when the course is very easy to see. Of course,
it is easy to see that, but it is harder to get people to
actually make the commitment that, yes, Israel has a right to
exist, because at that point it does say, okay, we have given
up this dream that the Palestinians are going to retake this
entire area that perhaps most of it used to belong to them.
Mr. Chabot. The gentleman's time has expired. Thank you
very much. We will now recognize the gentleman from Virginia,
Mr. Connolly, for 5 minutes.
Mr. Connolly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and welcome to the
panelists. Mr. Laudato, AID has a fairly extensive presence in
the West Bank.
Mr. Laudato. Yes, sir.
Mr. Connolly. Cooperating with the Palestinian Authority,
working with the Prime Minister, Mr. Fayyad. Do you have any
programs in the Gaza?
Mr. Laudato. Yes, we do, sir.
Mr. Connolly. And what is the level of cooperation or how
would you compare the level of oversight and cooperation with
the Hamas authorities in charge there compared to the
Palestinian Authority and the West Bank?
Mr. Laudato. Oversight and cooperation are two separate
issues. With regard to the cooperation, we do not work with the
de facto Hamas government in Gaza. All of our assistance is
coursed through international NGOs or international
organizations, and we monitor it very closely to the extent
that we can, utilizing the kinds of instruments and processes
that you use when you can't have boots on the ground.
Mr. Connolly. So the contrast is that we do work with the
government--the functioning government of the West Bank.
Mr. Laudato. Yes, we do, sir.
Mr. Connolly. And you work through it sometimes.
Mr. Laudato. And through it, and with it.
Mr. Connolly. But in the Gaza we work through nonprofit or
international NGO entities. Presumably, however, at some point
they intersect with the Hamas authorities.
Mr. Laudato. They operate with the tacit concurrence of the
authorities, but we will not permit that the Hamas government
organization to directly control or shape how this assistance
is utilized. That is determined by the NGOs or by the
international organizations, with our concurrence and with the
concurrence of the Israelis.
Mr. Connolly. What is your understanding about that modus
operandi and how it would change under the new power sharing
arrangement being proposed?
Mr. Laudato. I can't imagine it would change under the new
Mr. Connolly. Why would you not imagine it would change?
Now you would have a unified government.
Mr. Laudato. Because we have U.S. law to contend with, and
we must follow and we must implement U.S. law, which would not
permit us to operate with a group, Hamas or controlled
organization, as long as that organization was still considered
by the U.S. Government to be a terrorist organization.
Mr. Connolly. So conversely, it could change your
operations in the West Bank.
Mr. Laudato. Yes, it could, sir.
Mr. Connolly. Because you could find yourself technically
in violation of United States law.
Mr. Laudato. We would not violate it. We would end it.
Mr. Connolly. I understand. General Moeller, the same
question for you. What are your operations, if any, in the
Gaza? Presumably, none. Secondly, what is your understanding
about how that would change, once this power sharing
arrangement is underway, either in the Gaza or in the West Bank
General Moeller. Yes, sir. That is correct. We have no work
in Gaza. We are focused exclusively with the Palestinian
Authority and with the security forces that operate on the West
As Mr. Walles said, it is impossible to predict the future,
especially in the Middle East. So the different sequels and
branches that could occur based on a power sharing type
government on the West Bank, it is impossible for us to
predict. But again, as all of us have said, if in fact, there
is Hamas presence in a power sharing government, we will meet
U.S. law, the requirements of U.S. law.
Mr. Connolly. Which would include possibly cessation of the
activities you described earlier in the West Bank?
General Moeller. That is correct, sir.
Mr. Connolly. Thank you. Mr. Walles, in the brief time I
have left, one of the things I hear from the Palestinian
community in my community is opposition to the two-state
solution. They actually advocate for one state. Why can't we
just make one state work? Have the authorities you are working
with in the Palestinian Authority, in fact, publicly embraced
the two-state solution, and are they committed to it?
Mr. Walles. Yes, sir. President Abbas and Mr. Fayyad, all
of the senior officials at Palestinian Authority have been very
clear in public and also in our private conversations. They are
seeking a two-state solution. They are seeking integration of
the Palestinian state that would exist side by side in peace
and security with Israel. That is the objective that we have
been aiming at. That is also the position of the current Israel
Government as well. They also support a two-state solution.
I know there is discussion, both among your constituents
but also in the West Bank and Gaza about a one-state solution.
That is not something that we see makes any sense. It is also
something that in the polling that we have looked at among
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, there is still a strong
support for peace with Israel and for a two-state solution. It
is not unanimously, obviously, but the strongest support is for
a two-state solution.
Mr. Connolly. Thank you, Mr. chair.
Mr. Chabot. The gentleman's time has expired. The gentleman
from Kentucky, Mr. Chandler, is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. Chandler. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome, gentlemen.
Nice to see you all, and thank you for all of your work on
behalf of our country in, I guess, the most confusing,
difficult, and complex region in the world, and I think we all
understand how complex these issues are. There are no easy
solutions, and I know you all are working and doing your best
to get through them. There are, of course, a number of things
that are troubling, though.
We have got a request in the 2012--The 2012 request from
the President is for $400 million or so in aid. That request
assumes a certain level, as has previous aid, a certain level
of cooperation on the part of the Palestinian Authority to move
toward the two-state solution, and all the aid is geared toward
that. Yet we see, in particular, two very, very troubling
One is, of course, the Hamas Fatah agreement and where that
seems to be leading, and we all know what trouble exists there.
We also see an effort to move outside of direct negotiations,
to try to go for the September vote in the United Nations.
Surely, you all can understand how that is troubling to people
in Congress and, frankly, I think, to the citizens of this
country, that we continue to provide substantial aid, and we
feel like we are not getting cooperation.
That is the situation, I think, a lot of us feel cannot
continue, and at some point we are going to have to just say,
you know, if you guys are not going to cooperate, we are going
to have to cut the aid off. There are times when that is all
that people understand, and I think we are going to have to
look toward that, and I think that is coming if we don't get a
little bit more cooperation.
Could you give me an assessment of the effectiveness of
these projects, and you have talked about some of the security
concerns that have been addressed, and I understand that you
have some statistics on terrorism and how some of that has been
reduced. But on the economic side, what economic projects have
been effective, and which ones have not? Do you have projects
where the money has been spent in the past that have not been
Secondly, what are we doing to move this issue forward, of
seeing that these folks cooperate in exchange for this money?
With budgets as difficult as they are now, performance is
extremely important. We have got to get--Our money has got to
Mr. Walles. Thank you for those comments. I would agree
completely that, particularly in this day and age and the
budget environment that we face in this country, that all of
our assistance, wherever it is used, has to be done
effectively, has to be based upon a certain level of
Our entire aid program, whether it is security or economic,
is based on the premise of a two-state solution, and therefore,
we need to be sure that the Palestinian side remains committed
to that two-state solution. Now they say they do, but just as
you have concerns, we also have concerns about this
reconciliation agreement. We have been clear about that with
them, and we also strongly oppose any effort to go to the
United Nations on a unilateral basis.
Mr. Chandler. But they are clearly involved in that effort.
Mr. Walles. Well, they are, but again we have to judge
based upon what actually happens. As I said, the reconciliation
agreement has not been implemented. We are not sure whether it
will be, or not. So if there is a new government, we will react
to that, but at this point, there is no new government, and
similarly in New York. We have been very clear. We told the
Palestinians that is not the pathway they should be moving
down. They have an important choice to make, and it will have
consequences in terms of our relationship, if they choose that
In terms of your question on the economics, maybe I will
ask my colleague to respond to that.
Mr. Laudato. Thank you. Just briefly, three areas where
cooperation is critical. Water, as Congressman Rohrabacher
said. Water is an environmental issue, and it doesn't recognize
political boundaries. So working on water, you are working with
both the Israelis and the Palestinians, getting them to
cooperate. You can't drill a well here and not expect the
aquifer across the border to be impacted.
So we are very careful about that. We have brought them
together around these water issues, I think, very effectively.
Roads: Building roads is another area where we tend to help
these two entities work together because of the security
implications of roads. Probably the most interesting is sort of
working with the Palestinian private sector.
These young people, these young entrepreneurs in Palestine
recognize their natural partners are across that border in the
Israeli private sector, and there is a tremendous desire to get
together to make money, because that is what the private sector
is all about, and helping to create the linkages, either
utilizing U.S. firms that are there to stimulate or sometimes
just directly between the two societies, it is helping to
foster the kind of cooperation, and that cooperation is
absolutely essential to the development of the region, I would
say, on both sides of that border.
Mr. Chabot. The gentleman's time has expired. We are going
to do a second round here, and I will begin with myself. I
recognize myself for 5 minutes.
Mr. Walles, you stated in your testimony that--and I will
quote you--``Our assistance gives us strong leverage.'' Given
that statement, it is troubling that, after all these years, it
is increasingly hard to believe that the Palestinian leadership
is truly partners for peace with Israel. Eighteen years after
Oslo, and despite having received billions in U.S. assistance,
the Palestinian leadership continues to refuse to embrace the
very vision of two states for two peoples that you cited in
your statement, even as the Israeli Government accepts that
The Palestinian leadership also refuses to recognize
Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state for the Jewish
people, even as they seek a Palestinian state for the
Palestinian people, and anti-Israel incitement continues to be
propagated by PA control of institutions, including maps of the
area that show no State of Israel, with a State of Palestine in
its place that stretches from the Jordan River all the way to
the Mediterranean Sea.
So is it that our assistance given us--Excuse me. Is it
that our assistance hasn't given us leverage in this regard or
that we haven't really used it, and the Palestinian
Antiterrorism Act requires the Palestinian Authority to stop
incitement and recognize the Jewish State of Israel's right to
exist, if it wants to keep receiving U.S. assistance.
Given the PA's record and given U.S. law, how can we
justify continued assistance?
Mr. Walles. Thank you for that question. Our assistance
gives us leverage, and we do work closely with the Palestinian
Authority on this whole range of issues. We are speaking to
them about reconciliation agreement. We are speaking to them
about unilateral actions in New York. We speak to them about
incitement, and we talk about problems and textbooks, a whole
range of issues, and we have found over the years that our
ability to discuss these issues has produced results.
In addition, as I explained earlier, we feel that there are
practical benefits that come out of the assistance we provide.
We have seen over the years improvements in security. I alluded
to that earlier. We have also seen how our assistance has
helped the Palestinian Authority develop the institutions that
they will need for a two-state solution.
It is, obviously, not an easy process, and we have
continued to have issues that we have to discuss with the
Palestinians, and we do that, but I have dealt with the
Palestinian leadership for a number of years. I was in
Jerusalem for 4 years with our Consul General, and I have to
say that, in terms of their commitment to peace, I am convinced
that President Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad are indeed
committed to peace with Israel. They are committed to a two-
state solution. I have known both of them for a long, long
time. So I think that commitment is there.
Clearly, there are issues that we have with the Palestinian
Authority, and there remain considerable gaps between Israel
and the Palestinians on the issues between them, borders,
refugees and so forth. So this is not an easy problem, but it
is one where we believe it is in our national interest to
achieve that two-state solution and to use all the tools that
we have through our assistance and other means, to advance in
Mr. Chabot. There are many of us that are getting more and
more skeptical about that assistance. You mentioned Prime
Minister Fayyad. Let me ask you this. He is a very well
respected person by the western world. He has strengthened
Palestinian institutions and, certainly, helped to turn the
economy around there.
There are questions as to whether Prime Minister Fayyad
will retain his position, if a new unity government is formed.
What, if any, are the implications for U.S. assistance if
Fayyad is not the Prime Minister of the next Palestinian
Government, and is replaced by a less reputable person?
Mr. Walles. We have a great deal of confidence in Prime
Minister Fayyad. We have worked with him. He has done
tremendous things, as you have said, in terms of improving the
institutions of the Palestinian Authority, improving the
security situation, public finance, and so forth.
I don't want to get in the position of helping the
Palestinians choose who their prime minister is. We have,
obviously, very good relations with Fayyad since 2007 when he
has been the prime minister. I would say that, certainly in
terms of our law, but also in terms of our policy, what is
important are not the individuals.
What is important are the institutions, and it is important
that there be a Palestinian Authority Government, whoever heads
it, that is committed to the principles, the Quartet,
recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence, acceptance of
all the previous agreements, and a two-state solution.
That is what is important to us, the policies, the
composition of that government. That is more important, in many
ways, than an individual, but again everything Fayyad has done
over the last 4 years as prime minister has been remarkable in
terms of the achievements.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you. I would ask unanimous consent for
one additional minute to ask a question here, without
General Moeller, if I could, could you please describe the
U.S., not the Israeli or the Palestinian but the U.S., vetting
mechanisms that are in place or that are employed relative to
the Palestinian Security Forces? How often is follow-up vetting
performed? Is there any kind of biometric tools used to assure
that there is no malfeasance and that sort of thing?
General Moeller. Yes, sir. As you know, Palestinian
recruits, before they can go to their training in Jordan, go
through an extensive vetting program, and it really starts with
the Palestinian Authority. They do a pre-vetting for all of the
recruits before they are actually--They submit names to the
United States and to Israeli Government.
We comply with all of the legal requirements or Title XXII
or I&L funding for Leahy vetting as well as for--and it, of
course, uses all of the tools that we have at the disposal of
the Department of State. So the Palestinian recruits go through
a vetting process with a pre-vetting process by the
Palestinians. The United States does our legally required
vetting. The Israelis do an extensive vetting, and then before
one trooper moves, the Jordanians have an opportunity to do
vetting for each recruit.
A good example is that we recently received vetting results
from the Israelis for 650 Palestinian Security Force members
that will move either next month or in early September for
their basic training. Of those 650 recruits, the Israelis
rejected five. So what you can see is that the Palestinians are
doing a very good job in their pre-vetting, as well as the
vetting that all of the services go through.
We have also seen, of course, for every program that they
go through that is provided through U.S. assistance, they go
through--each of the members go through another additional
vetting process as well.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much. I thank the panel. I would
now recognize the gentleman from New York for 5 minutes plus 1
minute, to be fair. So the gentleman is recognized for 6
Mr. Ackerman. There is this TV game show or whatever. You
spin a wheel, and all the parties try to keep racking up points
before they solve the puzzle, and sometimes they get a little
bit too greedy. Instead of solving the puzzle, they wind up
bankrupt. They try to keep building their score.
Let us go right to trying to solve the puzzle. The goal
here is to get both sides back to the bargaining table. There
is great danger in that not happening. The results could be
disastrous for both sides. How do you get them back to the
The President had a proposal. I wasn't startled by it. I
don't think anybody who has followed this was startled by it.
It is something that has been discussed by a lot of people over
a lot of years in a lot of different administrations. There is
some face saving that has that has to take place as well
between the Israelis and the Palestinians to get back to the
The President threw out what he calls pre-'67 lines. The
prime minister rejected that, because he said those lines were
indefensible. Why don't we employ some Solomonic wisdom and cut
this baby in half. Let us narrow the difference. If someone
were to make a proposal that said get back to the table based
on the following proposition with mutually acceptable swaps,
but the impetus being, start with the fence that the Israelis
Presumably, they could have put it down anyplace that they
wanted. In some places, they have moved it to accommodate legal
decisions of their court, but presumably if they put down a
security fence, they defined a line that they thought was
defensible. Otherwise, they would have put it,
commonsensically, someplace else.
If we said, let us take both sets of lines, the pre-'67
lines and the fence, and used both lines as the basis to get
back to the bargaining table with mutually agreed to swaps,
which means the Israelis could have a veto if they think there
is a problem, as would the Palestinians, and go back to square
one, that would mean that the large settlement blocks remain on
the Israeli side, which everybody seems to agree is going to
happen in any deal that can possibly be reached, and narrow
those differences to somewhere between the pre-'67 lines and
the security fence, is there enough there to talk about?
Is there enough face saving for both sides? Could you start
with both sides lines that both sides have claimed that they
want, and there is a lot fewer hectares, acres, inches to
squabble about? Does that work, politically and from a security
point of view?
Mr. Walles. Mr. Ackerman, if you and I were negotiating
this, I am sure we could work it out. The difficulty here, of
Mr. Ackerman. And who is going to nominate me?
Mr. Walles. The difficulty, of course, is reconciling the
Israeli position and the Palestinian position, not just on the
issue of territory but on many, many issues, and there are
indeed some important gaps.
What the President did in his speech on May 19th is to try
to lay out what he thought was a balanced way in which we could
resume negotiations, and he talked not just about the
territorial aspects. He also talked about security, and that is
an important part of that balance.
The President also on the 22nd of May explained in a little
bit of detail what he meant. I think it is worth just sort of
reading that. He said that, when the two sides negotiate such a
border, it will necessarily be different than the June 4, '67
line. That is what the concept of mutually agreed swaps is. So,
clearly, the parties are going to have to sit down in direct
negotiation and work this out.
The President's point in laying out these ideas on
territory and security was not to lay out the outcome. It was
to start to give a basis on which they could begin.
Mr. Ackerman. But the premise I am putting before you is,
yes, the prime minister didn't want to start there, because he
said those were indefensible. So put out his defensible one--
presumably, the fence is defensible.
Mr. Walles. I think it is an interesting idea. At the
moment what we are trying to do is to get both sides to agree
to come back to negotiate, based upon the totality of what the
President said. We have conversations that are ongoing.
Mr. Ackerman. But that incorporates what the President
said. It incorporates what the prime minister did.
Mr. Walles. I think it is an interesting idea.
Mr. Ackerman. I don't want to endorse my own proposal, but
I will, if nobody else does.
Mr. Walles. I will take that back, and we will see what we
can do with it.
Mr. Ackerman. General, is that logical?
General Moeller. Sir, heaven forbid that I would actually
talk about Israeli security concerns from their perspective. It
sounds like a proposal that we do need to take back and talk
about. Certainly, I would be perfectly willing to talk with the
IDF about how that fits in.
Mr. Ackerman. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I don't need the
Mr. Chabot. You already took it. We gave you six.
Henceforth, we will have the Ackerman plan. The gentleman from
California, Mr. Rohrabacher, is recognized for 5 minutes, or 6.
He always takes six anyway.
Mr. Rohrabacher. How much money are we providing in
assistance, all assistance to the Palestinians?
Mr. Walles. For the Fiscal Year 2011 budget, we requested
in economic support funds $4,400,000. That is the same level
that was requested in Fiscal Year 2010. That is money that is
implemented by USAID. In addition to that, we have requested
$150 million in INCLE money. That is International Narcotics
Control and Law Enforcement. That is the program that funds
General Moeller and his program. So those are the two
components of the assistance.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Where is the $77 million to Gaza? What
account does that come out of?
Mr. Walles. Well, those are projects that are ongoing now.
So that comes out of previous appropriations.
Mr. Rohrabacher. So we are spending--But that is not
included. So it is not included in the $600 million that you
just described, or it is?
Mr. Walles. The projects that I described in Gaza have been
funded out of previous year money. Those are ongoing projects.
Now the money we are requesting for 2011, the total of those
two, is roughly $550 million.
Mr. Rohrabacher. That includes the $77 million going to
Gaza or is it $77 million more than that?
Mr. Walles. No. All of what we are doing is included in
those two appropriations.s
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much. How much are we
giving to Israel?
Mr. Walles. Our assistance to Israel is all foreign
military financing. It is in the neighborhood of $3 billion a
Mr. Rohrabacher. $3 billion, and no other assistance to
Mr. Walles. There is no economic assistance at the moment
Mr. Rohrabacher. It seems to me, again as we look at what
is going on, the status quo we find ourselves in, is that the
solution, really--the idea of just getting themselves talking
to each other is--They could talk about whatever and get
nowhere. It seems to me, the stumbling block is whether or not
the Palestinians will agree that the right to return, meaning
to swarm into an Israel that would exist and thus change its
basic nature. That is the issue at hand, is it not?
They can always come to an understanding about borders, but
until they understand that, that is the essence of what the
Mr. Walles. I appreciate your perspective on this. The
issues that the Israelis and the Palestinians have agreed form
the permanent status negotiations include the borders,
security, refugees, Jerusalem, water. Those are the ones that
they will have to decide in the course of those negotiations,
which includes refugees, as you put it, on the right of return.
So that is an issue that they are going to have to deal with.
Mr. Rohrabacher. But, obviously, until the right of return
is dealt with, nothing else matters, because Israel, obviously,
isn't going to say, oh, yes, 3 million people or 2 million
people can come right back into Israel, which changes the very
nature of what they have been fighting for their entire time.
Let me ask you this. It seems to me from what I am hearing
here today, that we have been treating this rather then as an
impasse on policy, which I see it as, as instead as some kind
of a development program. We spent so much money in doing this
and preparing this, and even to the point of we are
micromanaging the vetting of their troops or their constables
or whatever you want to call them.
Just for the record, Mr. Chairman, I don't think that
looking at the peace process as a development program is going
to bring peace. However, offering some incentives, as I
mentioned earlier, to both sides to come to grips with those
specific issues is a totally different approach. Frankly, I
think the approach we have been using, shoveling out dollars to
the back of a truck has not worked, and I think we need to take
a different approach in one last segment here. So I got 25
Back to water: Where does the Red Sea and the Dead Sea
project, which is one of their huge potential water projects
for that area--Where does that stand, and could that possibly
be something that we would say, you guys agree to the final
solution here, and we will move forward and work with you to
develop this water project?
Mr. Laudato. Thank you, Congressman. With regard to the
Dead/Red project, most of our discussions have been regionally
on that project, because, obviously, it impacts on the
Palestinians, on the Jordanians, and on the Israelis. I believe
that the current status is that there is still some substantial
environmental assessment work that is ongoing. That is, I
believe, being financed by the Jordanian Government itself, but
this issue does appear on agendas when we talk to each of the
governments in the region on a regular basis, but we have
treated it up to this point as a technical issue, because we
are trying to figure out what the engineering is, what the
environmental impact is, and those issues.
Mr. Rohrabacher. That assessment has been going on for 10-
20 years now.
Mr. Laudato. Yes, absolutely.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Let me just note, it could be a great
symbol of freedom and progress and prosperity and peace to that
region, but I don't think it is going to happen as a
development project. It will happen as a promise to those
people if they can find peace with each other, and peace will
come when the fundamental issues are agreed upon.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Chabot. The gentleman's time has expired. The final
questioner today will be the gentleman from Florida, Mr.
Mr. Bilirakis. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate it
What can you tell me for the panel--or what can you tell me
about Hamas' direct involvement of the so called Gaza Flotilla
efforts, whether the one launched from Turkey last year or the
most recent attempt that was supported by the Greek Government
last week. Let me just take a moment to publicly thank the
Government of Greece for preventing the illegal launch of these
boats, which were embarked on a campaign to render aid and
comfort to a terrorist organization violation of a lawful
Having said that, if a direct or indirect Hamas role can be
established, what does that say about the seriousness of Fatah
to negotiate peaceably with Israel, and also would you agree
these types of flotillas are unnecessary as legal mechanisms
already exist to provide assistance to the people of Gaza?
Mr. Walles. Thank you, sir, for raising that question. Due
to the combined efforts of many parties, and you mentioned the
Greek Government--they played an important role in this--we
have been able so far this year to head off a repeat of a
flotilla to Gaza.
I would agree with you completely that such flotillas are
unnecessary. They exist to establish mechanisms to allow
humanitarian assistance and development projects to occur in
Gaza. We fund our own projects in Gaza that we have talked
about earlier. All of these projects are done with the approval
of the Israeli Government.
There are also established mechanisms in place to provide
humanitarian support. If other private organizations or other
international donors want to provide humanitarian or other
assistance to Gaza, there are ways to do that. So these
flotillas are not necessary, and we are pleased that, so far
this year, we haven't seen a repeat of the kind of incident
that we had last year.
In terms of any Hamas involvement in these flotillas, we
haven't seen that. These flotillas seem to be organized by
private groups, many of them in Europe. There was one
organization in Turkey that played an important role last year,
but we haven't seen any direct Hamas involvement. If there
were, of course, that would be another matter of concern, but
we have a great deal of concerns already about Hamas. They are
a foreign terrorist organization.
Mr. Bilirakis. Thank you. Anyone else on the panel? Thank
you very much, Mr. Chairman. Appreciate it. I yield back.
Mr. Chabot. Thank you very much. The gentleman yields back.
We want to thank the very distinguished panel here this
morning for their testimony. It has been very helpful.
I would note that all members will have 5 days, 5
legislative days, in which to insert statements or revisions to
If there is no further business to come before the
committee, we are adjourned. Thank you.
[Whereupon, at 11:51 a.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing RecordNotice deg.