- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fatah leaders, funded in part by the United States, characterized the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a great loss — the death of a “loyal friend who passionately defended our rights to freedom and self-determination,” one said.

“His contribution to the cause of dignity had no borders and reached the hearts and minds of the Arab world,” said Nabil Shaath, a top Fatah leader, quoted by Ma’an News Agency.

His statements come as Secretary of State John Kerry has asked Congress for more aid for the Palestinian Authority, led by Fatah interests, Indy News Israel reports.

SEE ALSO: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dies of cancer at 58; ‘Chavistas’ mourn strongman

“The Secretary feels extremely strongly that it is time now to get this support to the Palestinian Authority,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, in a March 6 Indy News Israel report. Mr. Kerry requested $700 million total for the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, Indy News Israel says. Almost $496 million of that was set aside in fiscal 2012 budgets; the remaining $200 million was just requested from Congress, Indy News Israel reports.

The State Department doesn’t classify the group as a terrorist organization. The group START — the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism — defines Fatah on its website as “a secular, Palestinian nationalist organization that has played and continues to play a pivotal role in Palestinian politics.”

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