By Jamie Crawford
Two powerful Republicans in the House of Representatives released restrictions Friday on the disbursement of U.S. assistance to Palestinians that the congresswomen had been blocking in Congress.
Rep. Kay Granger, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, said she was releasing a hold that had been in place since August on all of the $147 million in congressionally appropriated money for the Palestinians. House Foreign Affairs Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen partially lifted her block for more than half of the funds to be sent.
By CNN's Jill Dougherty
An Arab-language version of the American children’s program, Sesame Street, watched by kids in the Palestinian Territories, is on hold for this year, victim of a decision by the U.S. Congress to freeze nearly $200 million in funds to the U.S. Agency for International Development. Called “Shara’a Simsim” in Arabic, the program is aimed at youngsters in the West bank and Gaza and is funded through the USAID.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed the cut-off Tuesday. “Unfortunately, Kermit is not able to be supported at this moment,” she said.
Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.
The U.S. is far and away the major financial backer of the United Nations. Yet the world body often embraces resolutions and policies at odds with American positions and interests. Should the U.S. exercise its “power of the purse” to influence the U.N.?
On occasion, the U.S. has done just that, withholding contributions to express its extreme displeasure with actions taken in Turtle Bay. But the Obama administration rejected this tactic early on. Instead, in his first address to the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama proudly announced a “new era of engagement” with the U.N. President Obama’s Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, likewise considers withholding to be a practice that is “fundamentally flawed in concept and practice, sets us back, is self-defeating, and doesn’t work.”
So how’s that working? The Palestinian Authority’s recent doings in Turtle Bay are instructive.
Internet service is completely cut off in Gaza Tuesday and partially shut down in the West Bank after an attack on the main Internet provider to the Palestinian territories, according to a minister with the Palestinian Authority.
"This is a very serious and vicious attack," Dr. Mashour Abu-Daqqa, the minister of Communications and Information Technology, told CNN. The attack, which affected most of the Palestinian Internet communication network, also targeted domain addresses, said Abu-Daqqa.
The minister said hackers are using international IP servers originating in Germany, China, and Slovenia to send millions of attacks in the form of viruses to penetrate and disrupt the Internet communications.
There is no word on who, exactly, is behind the attacks.
"It does not mean the attackers are from there, it is only the origin of these virus attacks using these international servers and other international country servers," Abu-Daqqa said. FULL POST
The U.S. didn’t waste any time cutting funding for UNESCO after the United Nations devoted to promoting education, culture and science granted the Palestinians full membership.
Currently the U.S. covers approximately one fifth of the UNESCO costs but by cutting that funding it will be even harder for the American agenda at UNESCO to be accomplished.
That agenda is not just about protecting previous cultural sites, or teaching Afghan women, children and even police officers to read, or about helping to continue the Tsunami early warning system. It’s also about protecting Israel.
The irony of the decision to cut funding is that UNESCO is one of the few United Nations groups where the U.S. finds a sympathetic ear on issues related to Israel. UNESCO is actively working with America to promote tolerance and is working to deepen understanding of the Holocaust in countries where people don’t even believe it existed.
Even more important U.S. interests will be at stake if the World Intellectual Property Organization grants Palestinians membership, which as an affiliate of UNESCO they are almost certain to do. That is where you start directly encountering obvious and significant interests to American business. When an intellectual property dispute involves the Googles or the Apples of the world and China, it is critical for the U.S. to be a member of good standing, which it will not be if Congress cuts funding. FULL POST
By National Security Producer Jamie Crawford
The United States is cutting funding to the U.N. education and science agency UNESCO after the agency voted to accept a Palestinian bid for full membership, the U.S. State Department said Monday.
"Today's vote by the member states of UNESCO to admit Palestine as member is regrettable, premature and undermines our shared goal of a comprehensive just and lasing peace in the Middle East.," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
"The United States will refrain from making contributions to UNESCO," she said.
The United States was going to make a $60 million payment in November, and will now not do so, she said.
Some U.S. lawmakers had called on the Obama administration to withhold funding to UNESCO if the measure was approved.
The lawmakers cited U.S. law, which states that funds must be denied to any organization granting the Palestine Liberation Organization "the same standing as member states."
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Mission to UNESCO - the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization - said the United States contributes $80 million a year.
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