"Since the establishment of limited Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the mid-1990s, the U.S. government has committed over $4 billion in bilateral assistance to the Palestinians, who are among the world's largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid. […] Since June 2007, these U.S. policy priorities have crystallized around the factional and geographical split between the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Some U.S. lawmakers have taken action since August 2011 to delay the obligation of some already-appropriated FY2011 U.S. aid to the Palestinians, largely due to Palestinian efforts to seek greater international support of Palestinian statehood outside of negotiations with Israel. Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application for Palestinian state membership in the United Nations on September 23, 2011, and the Security Council is expected to vote on the matter in the fall of 2011. Additionally, a May 2011 agreement between Fatah and Hamas has raised concerns among some Members of Congress about continuing U.S. budgetary and security assistance to a PA government that could be subject to the approval of a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (Hamas) that claims to reserve the right to violently oppose Israel's existence. Prospects for implementation of the agreement remain unclear. […] Even if the immediate objectives of U.S. assistance programs for the Palestinians are met, lack of progress toward a politically legitimate and peaceful two-state solution could undermine the utility of U.S. aid in helping the Palestinians become more cohesive, stable, and self-reliant over the long term."
CRS Report for Congress, RS22967