US Repeats Threats To Pull PA Funding
US officials warned on Tuesday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) may risk losing its American funding, which constitutes $440 million in 2014, if it goes through with creating a unity government with the terror organization Hamas.
"Let me be utterly clear about our policy towards Hamas," Assistant Secretary for the Near East Anne Patterson told a House hearing.
"No US governmental money will go into any government that includes Hamas until Hamas accepts the Quartet conditions. And that's renouncing violence, recognizing previous agreements and most explicitly recognizing Israel's right to exist."
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday claimed "I recognize Israel and reject violence and terrorism, and recognize international commitments," even while re-declaring that he and his government would never recognize Israel as the Jewish state.
The unity deal with Hamas last Wednesday led Israel to suspend the peace talks, ahead of their April 29 deadline which arrived this Tuesday.
Under the unity deal, Abbas would head an "independent government" of technocrats, to be formed within five weeks, which would be charged with holding parliamentary and presidential elections within six months of taking office.
Regarding American funding, Republican and Democratic leaders in early March likewise said that the US should seriously consider cutting aid to the PA after it breached talk conditions by applying to 15 international conventions.
Likewise the US threatened to pull funding last Sunday, after Abbas threatened to disband the PA if Israel did not submit to his demands for extending the peace talks.
No funding to Hamas government
"Let me be clear: No Palestinian government that includes terrorist members of Hamas can or will receive US funding," representative Ted Deutch told the hearing into the 2015 budget priorities for the Middle East and North Africa.
Sub committee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said the reconciliation deal had "major implications" for the fiscal year 2015 budget, which begins in October.
The administration was "seeking over $440 million in direct bilateral assistance for the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank and Gaza," she said.
But US law is clear that "it cannot send funds to a Palestinian government that includes members of the terrorist group Hamas."
Hamas has been blacklisted by the US since 1993 as a terrorist organization. But Patterson said that Abbas and the leadership of Hamas "hate each other."
"There is some thought that one way to get rid of Hamas is to hold an election because that's how they entered the political process and that's how Abu Mazen, President Abbas, should get rid of them."
She recalled though that previous reconciliation attempts had failed and stressed "the Palestinian Authority needs our support."