New legislation would bar PA from receiving U.S. funds pending ICC bid withdrawal


A bill introduced in Congress on Tuesday threatens to cut off U.S. financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) until Ramallah withdraws a bid announced in late December to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). The legislation, introduced by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), stipulates that no money be given to the PA “until the Palestinian Authority withdraws its request to join the International Criminal Court.” The bill comes a week after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas engaged in several moves in the international body that would elevate Ramallah’s status – a Palestinian statehood bid last Monday failed to reach the necessary nine votes for passage, and two days later, Abbas announced that the PA would apply for membership in the International Criminal Court. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon announced on Tuesday evening that Ramallah is expected to officially join the ICC on April 1, having submitted the necessary documents late last week to move forward with the bid. Sen. Paul, speaking Monday on Fox News, said it “hardly seems to me a good idea to give American taxpayer money to a country or an entity that is now saying that an ally of ours—that their soldiers need to be investigated for war crimes.” The State Department had on Monday told reporters that Congress would take the lead in any decision to cut some $400 million in annual aid to the PA, which is contingent on Ramallah meeting long-standing treaty requirements forbidding unilateral moves that upgrade the PA's international status outside of negotiations with Israel. Following Abbas’s announcement last week, several Democratic and Republican legislators announced that the PA would face repercussions for the move, with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) releasing a statement that she was “deeply frustrated” by the gambit. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) released a similar statement, pledging that Congress would “do everything in its power to block funds to the PA.”


Wal-Mart, SunPacific, Pepsico, FritoLay and BASF are testing Pimi Agro CleanTech’s technology to keep food from rotting before reaching the market. Nimrod Ben-Yehuda is on a mission: to feed millions of starving children worldwide. Not, the lifelong farmer explains, by producing more food, but by dramatically cutting wastage on route to the consumer. The company he founded 15 years ago, Pimi Agro CleanTech, has a unique, environmentally friendly line of products to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for as long as 10 weeks, drastically reducing deterioration during transport. About one-third of food never makes it to the marketplace; in developing countries the figure is usually higher. Spoilage, disease and transportation issues whittle away producers’ and marketers’ profits – and raise consumer prices. “Before being sold, all produce is sorted. Thirty percent gets thrown away, and what’s left hardly lasts a day before being replaced,” says Ben-Yehuda, who dates his concern back to his days as a teenaged kibbutznik working in the fields. “I was amazed at the amount of fruit and vegetables thrown away in the packing stations. I saw piles of rotting peppers and tomatoes — meanwhile children are going hungry. It’s crazy!” Already his young mind was working on a solution. “The critical period is from the time the fruit is picked to when it begins to rot,” Ben-Yehuda tells ISRAEL21c. “Take a single eggplant, for example. We cut it from its lifeline when we pick it. It’s all alone, and has to survive. Inside, its body systems weaken; it uses up all its sugars and goes into stress, with telltale signs. The fruit rots because it’s weak inside.” (via Israel21c)

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