NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY
PA President Mahmoud Abbas signed a reconciliation deal with the terrorist group Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Congress Slams Hamas-Fatah Reconciliation
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to ink a reconciliation agreement with the terrorist group Hamas elicited strong condemnation from many members of Congress.
In addition, 29 senators sent a letter to President Obama urging him to make clear to Abbas that Hamas’ inclusion in a PA government will jeopardize the PA’s relationship with the United States, including its receipt of U.S. aid.
View excerpts from the lawmakers’ statements and read the full Senate letter below:
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY)
April 27, 2011
Rather than seizing the dynamic of this amazing Arab Spring to simply push for national elections and constitutional reform, the leadership of the Palestinian Authority has once again naively decided to test the trustworthiness of a bloody-handed bunch of terrorist want-to-be theocrats.
For months, President Abbas has refused partnership with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in pursuing peace negotiations. It now appears that he is writing off partnership with the United States in helping to govern and develop Palestinian society.
(Read full statement)
Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Jack Kingston (R-GA), Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), John Barrow (D-GA), Tim Murphy (R-PA), Ben Chandler (D-KY), and Larry Kissell (D-NC)
April 28, 2011
This is a time for clarity. The Palestinian Authority has chosen an alliance with violence and extremism over the democratic values that Israel represents. The United States should not aid an entity whose members seek the destruction of the State of Israel and continue to fire rockets and mortars at innocent Israeli children. If the Palestinian Authority follows through on this decision, American law dictates that U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority will end. (Read full statement)
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
April 28, 2011
U.S. taxpayer funds should not and must not be used to support those who threaten U.S. security, our interests, and our vital ally Israel.
According to existing U.S. law, such a hybrid government cannot be a recipient of U.S. taxpayer funds because the law stipulates that the PA government must recognize the Jewish state of Israel’s right to exist, among other things. Therefore, in order to implement existing law, the U.S. must end assistance to the Palestinian Authority.
The Israeli and Palestinian people are eager for peace, but support for this type of PA government is not the way to get there. (Read full statement)
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
April 29, 2011
Hamas is a terror organization, eschewed by the United States government, and this deal puts United States support for the Palestinian Authority at risk unless Hamas renounces violence, abides by past peace agreements, and recognizes Israel's right to exist. The Palestinian people deserve a unified, peace-seeking government—not one that flies in the face of the necessary and important steps all parties must take toward peace. (Read full statement)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
April 28, 2011
The announced agreement, if it becomes reality, would be a major setback for peace efforts in the Middle East and is not in the best interest of the Palestinian people. Participation in a Palestinian government of any organization, such as Hamas, that fails to renounce their calls for the destruction of Israel and the use of violence should prompt the withdrawal of our assistance. No American taxpayer money should fund a government that includes a terrorist organization dedicated to the murder of innocent civilians.
The White House
Dear Mr. President:
The decision of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to form a unity government with Hamas—a designated terrorist group—threatens to derail the Middle East peace effort for the foreseeable future and to undermine the Palestinian Authority’s relations with the United States.
Hamas rejects peaceful efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and continues to call for the destruction of the State of Israel. Soon after this agreement was signed, senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar declared that “our plan does not involve negotiations with Israel or recognizing it.” Hamas and other Iranian-backed terrorist groups in Gaza have also stepped up their smuggling of Iranian arms and increased their mortar and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, firing more than 130 during the past month alone and nearly 300 this year. Hamas’ response to the killing of Osama Bin Laden, condemning “the assassination and killing of an Arab holy warrior” is emblematic of Hamas’ ideology and underscores Hamas’ continued support for terrorism.
The United States should stand by its refusal to work with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas. We welcome statements from the Administration recognizing that Hamas is a terrorist organization and insisting that it accept the Quartet conditions (of recognizing Israel’s right to exist, rejecting violence, and endorsing previous Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements). We strongly support Secretary Clinton’s 2009 Statement that: “we will not deal with nor in any way fund a Palestinian government that include Hamas until Hamas has renounced violence, recognized Israel and agreed to follow the previous obligations of the Palestinian Authority.”
It is imperative for you to make clear to President Abbas that Palestinian Authority participation in a unity government with an unreformed Hamas will jeopardize its relationship with the United States, including its receipt of U.S. aid. As you are aware, U.S. law prohibits aid from being provided to a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, unless the government and all its members have publically committed to the Quartet principles. We urge you to conduct a review of the current situation and suspend aid should Hamas refuse to comply with Quartet conditions.
Ultimately, the legitimacy of any peace process must always be weighed against the assurances Israel needs for its security and the security of the region. Hamas’ participation in the Palestinian government eliminates the trust and commitment to peace that must exist between the parties to move forward and therefore, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated, the choice is between “peace with Israel or peace with Hamas” because “there is no possibility for peace with both.”
As fellow Democrats, we thank you for your continued commitment to and investment in Israel’s security. We urge you to make clear to President Abbas and the international community the United States’ opposition to a Fatah-Hamas unity government that does not fully accept the Quartet principles. Such a government will prove fatal to the peace effort, as well as to efforts to establish a Palestinian state, and will severely harm relations with the United States. The Palestinian Authority needs to get back to the negotiating table rather than pursue futile and harmful efforts to join with Hamas or seek recognition of Palestinian statehood at the UN.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA)
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR)
Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE)
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
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