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Monday, January 05, 2004

Palestinians refuse millions of dollars in aid
- rather than pledge not to use the money for terrorism

"We would like to take funds from them, but without any conditions"
AP: RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinian aid groups have refused to accept money from the U.S. government because of a requirement they sign a pledge the money would not be used for terrorism, organizers said Monday.

The U.S. Agency for International Development has given Palestinian groups $1.3 billion in the past decade and is a key source of funding for the cash-strapped organizations.

But USAID enacted the anti-terrorism pledge requirement at the end of 2002 for new grants given worldwide. Specifically, USAID demanded that groups worldwide sign a document pledging not to "provide material support or resources to any individual or entity that advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in or has engaged in terrorist activity."

The Non-Governmental Organization Network, an umbrella group that includes 89 Palestinian aid groups, is leading the effort against signing the document.

Many Palestinian aid groups have refused to sign, arguing it allows the United States to determine what is a terrorist organization. They also fear that they might unwittingly fund projects of some of the 25 groups that the USAID identifies as terrorists like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

"Identifying most of the Palestinian factions as terrorist groups is unacceptable," said Siam Rashid of the NGO network. "The other issue is that any activity could be identified as a terrorist activity."
That's got to be the QUOTE OF THE DAY, THE MONTH, MAYBE EVEN THE YEAR: "Any activity could be identified as a terrorist activity." Yeah, right, not just blowing up babies, but feeding babies and loving them and keeping them safe . . . these could all be terrorist activities....