Lawmakers in the United States on Monday called on the Obama administration to suspend financial aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the wake of the formation of the new unity government between Hamas and Fatah.
The calls came as the State Department stated that the U.S. would work with the new unity government.
According to The Hill, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas “argues that the new government is composed of ministers without political affiliation, but this new government appears dependent upon Hamas and Hamas continues to support terrorism in its quest to destroy the state of Israel.”
Cantor added, “The burden lies with this new unity government to demonstrate in words and actions that it is truly independent of Hamas, that it rejects terrorism, and that it is committed to a peaceful two-state solution, including recognizing Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.”
Cantor also noted that recent conflict in the region and reports of corruption within the Palestinian Authority “raise serious doubts both about the willingness of the Palestinian Authority to forge peace with Israel and about its ability to govern in a transparent and responsive manner.”
"The laws of the United States prohibit assistance to terrorist organizations,” he pointed out, according to The Hill.
“The administration, in consultation with Congress, should initiate an immediate review of this new government,” he continued. “Until such time that it is determined that assistance to this so-called technocratic government is consistent with our own interests, principles, and laws it is incumbent on the administration to suspend U.S. assistance.”
In a separate statement quoted by The Hill, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.), said she was “deeply disappointed” in the new PA unity government.
“[A]s long as Hamas rejects the Quartet principles and the existence of the state of Israel, United States funding for this unity government is in jeopardy,” she said.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who heads the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, released a statement of her own in which she called for the U.S. to withhold funding from any Hamas-backed government.
“Whether it’s a government comprised of Hamas technocrats or an interim government that includes more active members of Hamas, the Administration must not fall for this latest scheme by [Abbas] and Hamas,” she said.
“The Palestinian leaders know that a unity government would trigger U.S. law to cut off funding, so now they are trying to find loopholes in order to say that they are still abiding by the conditions our law’s mandate. This contortionist act, akin to an embarrassingly evil Cirque du Soleil trick without any of the charm, is disingenuous at best, but this is the type of scheme you would expect from Abu Mazen and his cronies as they continue to try to undermine the peace process and fail to live up to past agreements with Israel,” she added.
“The PA deciding to partner with a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization once again reaffirms that Abu Mazen is not a true partner for peace and the U.S. must respond by withholding assistance to any Hamas backed unity government. The Administration must not fall for Abu Mazen’s latest ploy and instead enforce U.S. law and cut off funding.”
The new PA unity government was sworn in on Monday in Ramallah, the first such unity government for seven years.
The government is part of a the reconciliation deal recently signed by Hamas and Fatah, which aims to bring an end to a bloody seven-year feud between the sides.
The Israeli Cabinet decided after the swearing in not to engage politically with the new government, as part of the policy not to negotiate with terrorists.
In an official statement, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said “Abbas said 'yes' to terror, not peace It is the direct continuation of Abbas's policy to refuse peace, while Israel has made courageous and painful steps for the political process and remains committed to peace.”
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said earlier that support for the new unity government means support for terrorism.
"The replacement of ministers in the Palestinian government is just a pretty wrapping for the terrorist attacks that were conducted and will be conducted under their protection," declared Danon.
"Now, all aid given to the Palestinians by the United States and other countries directly aids terror attacks against the state of Israel," he warned.