State Dept: These are
New York — Representatives Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-FL), its ranking member; Gary Ackerman (D-NY), chairman of its Middle East subcommittee; and Mike Pence (R-IN), the subcommittee’s ranking member, have written to the Bush Administration urging it to reconsider the $86 million in funds promised to bolster Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party.
These four top members of the U.S. House of Representatives dealing with the Middle East wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that they were reconsidering their support for the funding in light of the recent Mecca agreement concluded between Hamas and Fatah on establishing a national unity government. The four wrote, “The fact that Fatah will now join a government led by Hamas terrorists — and will do so with Abbas’ blessing — raises serious questions about the commitments and loyalties of the Palestinian security forces we had undertaken to assist.” Also, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), chairwoman of the House’s Foreign Operations Subcommittee, has placed a hold on the funds transfer. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the letter raised legitimate concerns and that it was under examination: “These are questions that the secretary herself would want answered to ensure that any funding does not end up in the hands of Hamas or a Hamas-led government” (Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 6).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We strongly praise and support the action taken by these leading legislators dealing with Middle Eastern affairs to urge the administration to consider withholding funds from the PA. It is a position that the ZOA has urged repeatedly in light of Mahmoud Abbas’ and Fatah continuing extremism and anti-peace actions. Bear in mind that neither Fatah nor Hamas have abrogated their respective charters calling for Israel’s destruction and the use of terrorism against Israelis. Most importantly, Abbas has never fulfilled Palestinian commitments under signed agreements with Israel and also the 2003 Roadmap peace plan to fight, arrest, extradite and jail terrorists and confiscate their weaponry and end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feeds it. Worse, his own words and deeds display support for terrorists and extremist positions. He has called terrorist chieftains like Hamas’ Sheik Ahmed Yassin “martyrs,” wanted terrorists as “heroes” and said of suicide bombers that “Allah loves the martyr.” In June 2006, he endorsed the so-called ‘Prisoners’ Plan’, a document produced by jailed Palestinian terrorists, that endorses continued terrorism against Israel, legitimizes the murder of Jews, does not accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, abrogates Palestinian obligations under the signed Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan, and insists on the ‘right of return.’ In December 2005, he approved legislation mandating financial benefits to be paid to families of killed Palestinian terrorists. On Abbas’ watch, Palestinian institutions, streets and sports teams have been named after suicide bombers and other terrorists. No PA official map or textbook shows a state called Israel but instead always only a state covering this area called ‘Palestine.’ Mahmoud Abbas is self-evidently not a moderate or peace-maker and in these circumstances no progress towards peace can come from supporting him and Fatah. We urge the Bush Administration to heed the call of these leading Republican and Democratic legislators dealing with Middle Eastern issues and review the allocation of funds to Abbas and the Hamas/PA. For 13 years, the U.S. has given $2 billion in U.S. taxpayers’ money to the PA without making such aid conditional on the PA fulfilling its signed obligations to end terrorism and incitement. Since terrorism and incitement continue unabated, it is high time for the U.S. to set such conditions on aid to the Palestinian Authority or part thereof.”