AIPAC President Howard Friedman and Executive Director Howard Kohr released the following statement regarding the passage of S. 2370.
"AIPAC applauds the Senate's unanimous passage today of the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, a bill that ends direct aid and contact with the Hamas-run Palestinian Authority until Hamas renounces violence, recognizes Israel's right to exist, and agrees to abide by all previous agreements.
"The Senate approved PATA earlier today by a voice vote. A similar version of the bill was overwhelmingly approved by the House last month by a vote of 361-37. The swift passage and strong bipartisan support for the legislation in both chambers sends a clear message that Hamas' decision to continue its support for terrorism has direct and immediate consequences.
"Similar to the version approved by the House, this bill preserves necessary humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people, while keeping American taxpayer dollars out of the hands of a government run by terrorists.
"The bipartisan legislation strengthens the current Administration-directed ban on aid to the PA, while preserving humanitarian assistance, until the President certifies that that the PA is not controlled by a terrorist group and until Hamas fights terrorism, recognizes Israel's right to exist and abides by previous agreements with Israel. PATA ensures that necessary humanitarian aid is still able to reach the Palestinian people, while keeping American taxpayer dollars out of the hands of terrorists.
"During his address last month before a joint meeting of Congress following the passage of the bill in the House, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert praised the House and Senate for initiating the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, stating that the bill 'sends a firm clear message that the United States of America will not tolerate terrorism in any form.'
"Hamas is a terrorist organization, whose involvement in the governmental process has not altered its stated goal of destroying Israel. Instead of using these last few months to work toward better relations with the Israel, Hamas continues to reject Israel's right to exist and to endorse continued violence against the Israeli people.
"This legislation sets out a clear path for the Hamas government - end its support for terrorism and recognize Israel's right to exist and it will be recognized as a legitimate member of the international community. But until those conditions are met, the United States will not allow American taxpayer dollars to be used to support or legitimize a terrorist-led Palestinian Authority.
"AIPAC commends Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Joe Biden (D-DE) and the Republican and Democratic leadership of the Senate for their efforts to secure today's passage of this critical bill. The House and Senate will now meet to iron out any slight differences between the bills. Both chambers will then approve a final version of the bill before it is sent to the president for his signature."