Bush Signs Anti-Hamas Bill into Law
US President George W. Bush signed a law Thursday forbidding direct aid to the Hamas Authority - but not Fatah - until it accepts Israel. Two more men have been killed in Hamas-Fatah fighting.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 12/22/2006, 9:08 AM / Last Update: 12/22/2006, 11:00 AM
The new U.S. bill, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, outlaws aid to Hamas, but specifically permits funding to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah. This anomaly is based on the split in the PA government: Hamas won elections a year ago, giving it the prime ministerial slot and a majority in the legislature, while Abbas (Abu Mazen) is the Chairman, parallel to the position of President.
Hamas and Fatah are greatly at odds, unable to agree on either a policy towards Israel, the formation of a government, or a date for new elections. Supporters of both terrorist groups have shot and killed each other over recent weeks, including in the last few hours (see below).
The new U.S. law also denies visas to Hamas officials. It demands that Hamas acknowledge Israel's right to exist, give up terrorism against Israel, and adhere to existing agreements with Israel. Hamas officials have said they do not accept these conditions.
The U.S. is anxious to bolster Fatah and Abu Mazen, at the expense of Hamas, which appears on the U.S. list of terror organizations. The new law "is designed to promote the development of democratic institutions" in the Palestinian Authority areas, Bush said in a statement.
Meanwhile, yet another ceasefire attempt between Fatah and Hamas has failed, both in Gaza and in the Shomron. One man was mortally wounded in crossfire between Fatah and Hamas terrorists in Shechem Friday morning. In Gaza City, a ferocious gun battle over the course of Thursday night left one person dead and another kidnapped. Hamas and Fatah fighters fired a barrage of some 2,000 bullets at each other, a witness told The Associated Press.