Hamas leader Mashaal and PA's Abbas in Cairo
Hamas leader Mashaal and PA's Abbas in Cairo Reuters

Two Congressmen have written to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and warned that his award to journalist Helen Thomas may violate American conditions for funding.

Ohio Republican Rep. Steve Chabot and New York Democrat Eliot Engel told Abbas in the letter that honoring Thomas, who last year wrote that Jews should go back to “Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else,” violates conditions on funding set in legislation that was passed last year.

The threat is far from empty, because Chabot is the chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.

The “’Preparing the Palestinian People for Peace Act’…amends the Foreign Assistance Act to preclude assistance to the Palestinian Authority unless there is in effect a Presidential certification to Congress that the Palestinian Authority (1) is not engaging in a pattern of incitement against Israel, and (2) is engaged in peace preparation activities to promote peace with the Jewish State of Israel.”

The act includes a waiver, similar to that in the Congressional law that the U.S. embassy in Israel be located in Jerusalem, that the president can overrule “if he deems such waiver important to the national security interests of the United States, in which case the President must submit to Congress a report detailing the justification for the waiver…. The report also should detail the steps the Palestinian Authority has taken to arrest terrorists.”

Chabot and Engel wrote Abbas that the award to Thomas “is just another way to avoid telling the Palestinian population that they must be prepared for a negotiated settlement….Unfortunately, the recognition of stridently, and sometimes even violently, anti-Israeli individuals and themes has become all too common by the Palestinian Authority.”

Thomas has previously tried to explain her remarks, saying that she was referring only to Jews in Judea and Samaria and parts of Jerusalem claimed by the Palestinian Authority, and she added she was not anti-Semitic.

Congressmen Chabot and Engel wrote Abbas that her “words and beliefs have been anything but supportive of a settlement where two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, would live side-by-side, in peace and security.

"While Helen Thomas has not specifically espoused such violence, we see her recognition as simply part of the campaign to celebrate those who espouse harsh anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish themes.”