March 11, 2009--U.S. congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-Nev), a member of the Middle East Subcommittee of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, has sent a letter to US Secretary of State Clinton in which she demands that the American government condition $900 million in Gaza aid for Palestinians on ending Gazan rocket fire on Israel and release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged that $900 million during a conference in Egypt last week, which sought to raise money for rebuilding Gaza after Israel's three-week incursion into Gaza, which was aimed at halting Gaza rocket fire on southern communities.
Shalit has been held as a hostage by the Gaza regime Gaza since a cross-border raid in June 2006.
Rep. Berkley's letter to Clinton followed a meeting on Capitol Hill last Tuesday with the Sderot Media Center, (www.SderotMedia.com ) who briefed Congress about what life is like in rocket-battered Sderot in a meeting intiated by EMET 's President, Sarah Stern. Sderot Media Center brought Congress a series of first hand audiovisual reports of the 120 rocket attacks that have been launched from Gaza since Israel ceased its military incursion into Gaza on Jan. 18, two days before President Obama was inaugurated.
Photo: Carrie Devorah/WENN
After the briefing with the Sderot Media Center, Rep. Shelley Berkley dispatched a strong letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which demanded that the aid be delayed as long as the Gaza rocket fire continues and so long as Shalit remains captive.
EMET (Endownment for Middle East Truth) was established two years ago with the purpose of battling Islamic extremism and terrorism through information dessimination, policy forums, congressional luncheons, seminars and many other venues.
Video of Sderot Media Center presentation on Cap. Hill: (takes a few minutes to download)
The text of Rep. Shelley Berkley's letter appears below.
March 5, 2009
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Madam Secretary:
I write to you today regarding the situation in the Middle East. In the wake of Hamas’ attacks on Israel, and Israel’s defensive operations, I understand the U.S. government has pledged to grant $900 million for the rebuilding of Gaza and for assisting the Palestinian Authority. I am concerned that this money will end up helping Hamas and hurting the very Palestinian people we intend to help.
For years, the U.S. has infused money into the Palestinian Authority (PA), with very little to show for it. Their leaders are no more ready to govern today than they were before we began our funding. After years of mismanagement, their basic institutions are in shambles and they have shown very little ability to govern in the West Bank without the presence of the Israeli Defense Forces. Instead of helping average Palestinians, our money has lined the pockets of the Arafats and other corrupt Palestinian leaders.
I also understand our funding will not be conditioned on any reciprocal actions by Hamas or the PA. Despite Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Hamas still refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, has not stopped raining rockets on Israeli territory and still holds captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. It is essential that we condition our funding on Hamas’ reciprocating with these basic demands. Without such links, Palestinians will see the U.S. as providing aid while Hamas continues to terrorize the Israeli people, with no consequences from the U.S. government.
I am also concerned that much of the funding will be directed through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Unfortunately, UNRWA has proven itself to be a biased agency, with very little oversight. During the most recent violence in Gaza, UNRWA issued numerous statements attacking Israel for their self-defense actions, while failing to criticize Hamas for launching missiles at innocent Israeli citizens. Much of UNWRA’s money and services end up in the hands of people who are wealthy enough not to need the assistance, or worse, with members of terrorist organizations. UNRWA officials have even admitted that they cannot guarantee their money does not go to Hamas. I believe helping UNRWA does not further the cause of peace.