Cutting Off Aid to the Palestinians Remains a Very Bad Idea

From The Financial Times:

US lawmakers will this week make a new push to cut off American aid to the Palestinians as punishment for their efforts to become a separate state, with a House of Representatives committee pressing ahead with a bill withholding funding from any UN agency that recognises Palestine.
Lawmakers from across the political spectrum are supporting efforts to cut off the US's annual $500m in aid to the Palestinians following the Palestinian Authority's move last month to win recognition through the UN.

But a range of analysts, including strong supporters of Israel, has decried the efforts saying that they will only serve to undermine stability in the region.
"There are ways for Congress to express its displeasure that don't involve cutting off aid," says Elliott Abrams, a Middle East adviser in the Bush administration and a leading conservative voice against the Palestinians.
"If they were to cut off the Palestinian Authority, Israel would have to pick up a lot of its responsibilities, so who would they be helping and who would they be hurting?" Mr Abrams said.

Let's set aside this strange description of Elliott Abrams -- I'm not even sure what "a leading conservative voice against the Palestinians" means (well, I think I know what it means about the writer of the sentence) -- and get to what Abrams is saying. The Palestinian Authority on the West Bank is divided -- its President, the aging and ineffectual Mahmoud Abbas, seeks glory at the United Nations, but its prime minister, Salam Fayyad, seeks to build the actual social, economic and security structures of a state. Fayyad is an internal critic of the bid for unilateral statehood, but it is his efforts at state-buildling that will suffer if Congress cuts off aid. If Congress wants to punish Abbas, then punish Abbas. But don't punish the thousands of Palestinians who, with Salam Fayyad, are trying to build a responsible and transparent government for themselves.