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Half of Democratic Senators Urge P.A. Aid Cut-Off
05/09/11
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WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Half the Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate urged President Obama to suspend assistance to the Palestinian Authority unless Hamas recognizes Israel and renounces terrorism.

"It is imperative for you to make clear to President Abbas that Palestinian Authority participation in a unity government with an unreformed Hamas will jeopardize its relationship with the United States, including its receipt of U.S. aid," said the letter sent May 6 to Obama and signed by 27 Democratic senators.

Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority last week signed a reconciliation deal with Hamas.

The letter from the Democrats notes that U.S. law proscribes assistance to any government that includes Hamas, unless it and its ministers comply with principles laid down by the Quartet, the grouping that includes the United States, the Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. Those principles include recognizing Israel and renouncing terrorism.

Under that formulation, the Obama administration could have relations with a P.A. government that has the support of Hamas but that does not include its members at Cabinet-level positions. Administration officials have not counted out such a scenario.

However, the letter, initiated by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), suggests that Obama go further than the letter of the law, and condition relations not on the government's make-up, but on Hamas' posture.

"We urge you to conduct a review of the current situation and suspend aid should Hamas refuse to comply with Quartet conditions," it says. That language is backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in a recent backgrounder.

Separately, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) last week introduced a non-binding resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives that also urged cutting off assistance to a Palestinian Authority that includes Hamas.

Last Update:

05/09/2011 - 14:14

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Dear Editor:

In response to the published report that half the Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate urged President Obama to suspend assistance to the Palestinian Authority unless Hamas recognizes Israel and renounces terrorism, I believe that the letter which was initiated by NJ Senator Robert Menedez was an excercise in futility.

As all your readers will recall, a majority of the President's advisors did not recommend the miliary action which ultimately killed Bin Laden. The President ignored his own knowledgeable and experienced staff and followed his own impulses. He made up his mind to gamble and proceed to put the lives of American SEALS at risk.

His bold action was, thank god, successful. However, it demonstrated to the President that he is smarter than all his experts, and his speculative intuition was more accurate than the calculated recommendations of the brightest men and women in the upper achelons of our government.

Accordingly, given the Presidents' demonstrated and articulated disfavor for the Prime Minister of Israel, and his determination to force him to comply with the US diplomatic favor for the establishment of a two-state solution at any cost, President Obama will not heed the advise of half of the Democratic Senators, as stated in their May 6th letter. Why should he? Did he not prove to the world that his speculation is more accurate than that of half of his own advisers?

I hope the Senate and the House will not be satisfied with one letter, but will continue to apply proper pressure on the White House before the President dares to take another bold move which will risk the future of the State of Israel.

Milton Markovitz
Teaneck, NJ

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