Palestinian groups reject U.S. aid

Friday, May 24, 2002

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Dozens of Palestinian groups and leaders have called for refusal of aid from the U.S. government because of its support of Israel, according to a statement.

Among the 84 parties, organizations and individuals listed on the statement issued Thursday are Fatah, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's movement, and Hanan Ashrawi, a legislator and commentator who is well-known internationally. Also, nine non-governmental groups signed. The statement was distributed by LAW, a Palestinian human rights group, asking for additional signatures.

Palestinian human rights activist Khader Shkirat said the United States "supports Israeli crimes and with the other hand gives humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, and that is not acceptable."

The statement highlighted the Jenin Palestinian refugee camp, scene of the heaviest fighting during Israel's large-scale offensive in the West Bank that ended early this month, charging the United States with backing the Israeli offensive and then offering aid to the Palestinian victims.

In eight days of battles between Israeli soldiers and armed Palestinians in the camp, 52 Palestinians were killed, according to hospital officials, along with 23 Israeli soldiers. A section in the center of the camp was destroyed when Israeli bulldozers and tanks knocked down buildings.

Path Kabra of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem said that USAID, the American foreign aid agency, would have no response "to this boycott call." She added, "USAID is going to continue to assist as much as possible, and there have been requests from other donors and Palestinian officials that it continue to do so."

For the year ending in September, USAID has allocated $460 million for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, according to an official USAID document.

The statement called on "all Palestinian non-governmental organizations to refuse any form of cooperation with USAID and turn down any USAID direct or indirect grants ... in protest of the American official support for (the) Israeli government's crimes against our people."

Others listed on the statement are Haider Abdel Shafi, a prominent Gaza figure; The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, radical groups; two universities, and several members of the Palestinian parliament.

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