New York – The ZOA has praised the Bush Administration for calling upon Palestinian Authority (PA) chief, Mahmoud Abbas, to require all candidates in next Januarys legislative elections to renounce violence against Israel and for urging him to dismantle the terrorist movements operating within the PA. At present, Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas, are intending to run in Palestinian elections and have not been disarmed, despite PA obligations under numerous signed agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan.
Abbas met with President Bush today at the White House and ahead of this, the Administration had approached Palestinian officials in Washington with the proposal to screen out terrorists. “The Palestinians were reportedly willing to consider the U.S. proposition,” said a U.S. official, who refused to be identified further because of the sensitivity of the issue. Abbas may face similar requests when he meets with House and Senate leaders on Thursday after talks with the President (New York Times, October 19).
In August, a bipartisan group of twenty-two lawmakers (including nine members of the International Relations Committee) sent a letter to President Bush urging him to call on the PA chief, Mahmoud Abbas, to demand that in order for Hamas to participate in elections, it must renounce terrorism and abrogate its Charter.
The lawmakers urge President Bush to call on Abbas to do all in his power to ensure that the participation of Hamas in the upcoming elections is conditional on revising their charter, eliminating language that states that the day of judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, killing the Jews and removing language calling for Israels destruction completely disarming, publicly renouncing terror, ceasing promoting violence and murder against Israeli and U.S. citizens a total cessation of terrorist behavior, and the transformation of the organization away from its culture of anti-Semitism and incitement to violence.
The lawmakers added, To do otherwise would send the wrong message that political advancement can be secured through the use of terror and further embolden the enemies of Israel. That is simply unacceptable allowing Hamas to operate as a terrorist organization, while allowing it to participate in the electoral process, undercuts any possibility of true democratic reform within Palestinian society.
Members of Congress signing on to the letter included: Dan Burton (R-IN), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Major R. Owens (D-NY), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Michael R. McNulty (D-NY), Michael Ferguson (R-NJ), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Al Green (D-TX), Mike Pence (R-IN), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Steve Israel (D-NY), Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL), and Brad Sherman (D-CA).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, We applaud the Bush Administration for agreeing with the conclusions of this distinguished group of congresspersons calling upon Mahmoud Abbas to exclude Hamas and other terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian elections unless they publicly renounce violence. The ZOA is also proud to have been of help to the Members of Congress in their concerns about Hamas. Nevertheless, we at ZOA believe that Hamas must go further than what the Bush Administration is presently requiring, namely, that Hamas only make a public statement renouncing violence. They must abrogate its Charter, calling for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews, as well as recognize publicly Israels right to exist as a Jewish state.
As ZOA has pointed out before, the 1995 Oslo II agreement prohibits the nomination of any candidates, parties or coalitions that commit or advocate racism or pursue the implementation of their aims by unlawful or non-democratic means (Annex II, Article II). To insist on the non-participation of terrorists in Palestinian elections is therefore not only justified and necessary in the war against Islamist terrorist groups of which the President spoke so eloquently on October 6, but a Palestinian obligation under signed agreements.