An overwhelming majority of 88 U.S. Senators have sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to reconsider aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) over its forming a unity government with Hamas.
The initiative was led by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). The letter, published on Cardin’s website, expresses strong reservations about U.S. relations with the newly formed Fatah-Hamas unity government.
“The recent formation of a Palestinian Authority unity government supported by Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization that has never publicly accepted the Quartet principles, represents a serious setback to efforts to achieve peace,” the Senators wrote. “By its actions and inaction, Hamas has demonstrated it is not a partner for peace.”
Citing the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 and restrictions contained in the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2014, the Senators reminded Obama of the legal prohibition on “foreign assistance to Hamas or any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member or over which Hamas has undue influence.”
“Hamas has openly called for Israel’s destruction and last month Hamas leaders again repeated their refusal to meet recognized international demands: recognition of Israel, renunciation of terror, and acceptance of previous Israel-PLO agreements,” wrote the Senators.
They further noted that any assistance to the PA “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.”
The European Union, the United States and the United Nations have all said they were open to working with the new unity government despite the inclusion of Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization.
The State Department has justified Washington’s decision to work with the unity coalition by saying there are no Hamas ministers in it.
A similar call to Obama from Senators was made shortly after the Hamas-Fatah coalition was announced.