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US House urges halt of direct aid to Palestinians
Updated: 2006-02-16 08:55

The US House of Representatives passed a resolution on Wednesday urging that direct US aid to the Palestinian Authority be stopped as long as the militant group Hamas, which is expected to form a new Palestinian government, calls for Israel's destruction.

The nonbinding resolution expressing the sense of Congress was approved 418-1. The Senate passed the measure earlier this month.

The Bush administration is evaluating its aid program to the Palestinians following Hamas' stunning victory in Palestinian elections over the Fatah movement.

"Until Hamas changes course, dismantles its terrorist organization, and agrees to work toward a peaceful settlement with Israel, no taxpayer money should be provided to support the Palestinian government," said House Majority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican.

House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, an Illinois Republican, said the resolution "sends a strong message" to the Palestinians, without trying to force the Bush administration into a policy before the new Palestinian government is formed.

A number of House members are pushing binding legislation to halt US aid and withhold U.S. funds to the United Nations equal to the amount the world body provides the Palestinians.

For 2006, the United States has budgeted US$150 million in assistance to the Palestinians, and a further $84 million to the UN fund.

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