NEW YORK- The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly criticized Secretary of State Powell for his statements accepting the Palestinian Authority’s offers to give Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists a role in upcoming Palestinian Arab elections.
At a press conference on November 22, 2004, in Jericho (www.state.gov/secretary/rm/38565.htm) Powell was asked about the PA’s friendly overtures to groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and he replied: “With respect to Palestinian organizations, what I heard from the Palestinian leadership is they are working hard with all of them to try to draw them into the political process and away from any acts of terror or violence that would essentially stop the political process. Some organizations will be easier to manage than others, but they are working with all, and trying to find ways to integrate those that have had a violent history into this process, by getting them to abandon that history, turn in their weapons, and find ways to absorb them, and to absorb them safely, for their own safety and for the safety of the society.”
Powell’s remarks follow an earlier report in the New York Times (Nov.16, 2004), that new PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met yesterday with Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist leaders and “urged the militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad to join in elections in the governing Palestinian Authority Abbas did not even raise one central question, whether Palestinians should stop attacks against Israelis, participants in the meeting said.”
Similarly, when Abbas served as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority in 2003, he offered cabinet seats to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said: “After World War II, the U.S. insisted that Germany outlaw and dismantle the Nazi Party. The U.S. would certainly never allow Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda movement to take part in elections in Afghanistan. It would not allow Saddam Hussein or any member of his Ba’ath Party to run for president in the upcoming Iraqi elections. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which are on the U.S. terror list because they have murdered hundreds of Israelis and Americans, should not be allowed to take part in Palestinian Arab elections. They should be outlawed and dismantled, not given legitimacy and a chance to gain power. Why is Secretary Powell worried about the “safety” of the terrorists? He should be demanding that they be jailed, not looking for ways to ‘absorb them safely’.”