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US Lawmakers Threaten to Halt Funds to Palestinians

April 29, 2011
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“The reported agreement between Fatah and Hamas means that a Foreign Terrorist Organization which has called for the destruction of Israel will be part of the Palestinian Authority government,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “US taxpayer funds should not and must not be used to support those who threaten US security, our interests, and our vital ally, Israel.

“According to existing US law, such a hybrid government cannot be a recipient of US 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 US must end assistance to the Palestinian Authority.”

Since 2007, Hamas has been excluded from the PA government in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], following a violent split with Abbas’s Fatah party that left Hamas in charge in the Gaza Strip. That has enabled the US to give the PA hundreds of millions of dollars.

Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, wasn’t the only concerned legislator. Rep. Gary Ackerman, a member of President Barack Obama’s Democrat Party, also raised the prospect of withholding funds to the upcoming Palestinian government.  

“As in prior cases, the United States will be compelled by both law and decency to withhold any assistance that could fall into the hands or control or even partial control of anyone reporting to, or belonging to a terrorist entity, as is Hamas. And in the current political climate, even assistance that would otherwise have gone to parts of the Palestinian Authority untainted by terrorism may no longer be salvageable,” said Ackerman in a statement on his Web site.

“For months, President Abbas has refused partnership with Israeli Prime Minister [Benjamin] 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. It’s certainly historic leadership. Just not the good kind.”

The Obama Administration has yet to officially give their full response to Hamas’s inclusion in the Palestinian government, and while American lawmakers have threatened to withhold funding, it hasn’t been decided yet.  

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, it appears the European Union is taking a wait-and-see approach to the impending Palestinian government. Speaking in a statement posted on the EU External Action Web site, EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton refrained from making an explicit evaluation of the Hamas–Fatah deal.

“On behalf of the EU, I am following the decision to form an interim Palestinian government with great interest,” said Ashton. “The EU has consistently called for peace and reconciliation under the authority of President Abbas, leading to an end to the division between the West Bank and Gaza and in support of greater security and stability across the region. We will study the detail of this agreement and discuss with colleagues in the EU and in the region.”

In the region, Iran welcomed the Palestinian agreement. According to a report on the Fars News Agency Web site, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said he believed the move was a step towards Palestinian goals, presumably statehood. Fars paraphrased Salehi as hoping the unity deal would lead to the acquiring of “great victories in confrontations” with Israel.

Posted on April 29, 2011

Source: (By Joshua Spurlock, BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, April 28, 2011)

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