Diplomacy

88 Senators Sign Letter Calling Hamas-Abbas Gov’t a “Setback to Peace”

On Wednesday, Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME) led “a bipartisan supermajority of 88 Senators in sending a letter to President Barack Obama” calling the Palestinian unity government “a serious setback to efforts to achieve peace.”

The Times of Israel reported further:

According to the senators, Hamas’s role in the formation of the government has “undermined Congressional support for US assistance to the Palestinians.” That aid, they wrote, should only be provided when “we have confidence that this new government is in full compliance with restrictions contained in current law.” …

In recent weeks, lawmakers have taken a number of directions in their interpretation of the Palestinian Anti-Terror Act of 2006. Those who support the immediate application of the act argue that Hamas’s support for the government — even if it does not hold any ministries – makes the law applicable.

The text of the senators’ letters reads in part:

Recent events have consequences as to U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority as provided for in the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 and restrictions contained in the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2014, including prohibiting foreign assistance to Hamas or any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member or over which Hamas has undue influence. These troubling developments, including the role played by Hamas in the formation of the government, have undermined Congressional support for U.S. assistance to the Palestinians. Any assistance should only be provided when we have confidence that this new government is in full compliance with the restrictions contained in current law. We urge you to continue to impress on President Abbas the need for him to cease any alliance with terrorist organizations such as Hamas and to return to the negotiating table with Israel.

In 2011, Cardin and Collins introduced a resolution in the Senate with 88 co-sponsors, stating that the Senate:

(1) reaffirms its strong support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states, a democratic, Jewish state of Israel and a viable, democratic Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition;

(2) states its firm belief that any Palestinian unity government must publicly and formally forswear terrorism, accept Israel’s right to exist, and reaffirm previous agreements made with the Government of Israel;

(3) reiterates its strong opposition to any attempt to establish or seek recognition of a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated between leaders in Israel and the Palestinians;

That Senate resolution and a related one from the House of Representatives both passed.

The bipartisan criticism of the Palestinian unity government comes at a time when “the wisdom and coherence of the Obama administration’s approach” has been questioned by journalists.

[Photo: SenatorCardin / YouTube ]