WASHINGTON – The US supports a Palestinian unity government so long as it
upholds the principles of peace, White House Chief of Staff William Daley said
on Thursday night.RELATED:Fatah, Hamas reach Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal'PA can choose peace with Hamas or with Israel; not both'
But he labeled Hamas a terrorist organization and
stressed that any Palestinian government had to accept the three demands
outlined by the international community.
“The United States supports
Palestinian reconciliation providing it is on the terms that advance the cause
of the peace,” Daley told the American Jewish Committee following news that
Fatah and Hamas had mended the rift long dividing the Palestinian
“Hamas, however, is a terrorist organization which targets
civilians,” he continued. “Any Palestinian government must renounce violence, it
must abide by past agreements and it must recognize Israel's right to
Daley emphasized US President Barack Obama’s enduring commitment
to a two-state solution, and called on Israel to take steps to push the peace
“For Israel this means stopping settlement growth,
ending evictions and demolitions, dismantling outposts and improving access and
movement within the West Bank,” he said, urging Palestinians to stop incitement
and Arab states to make overtures towards Israel as well.
“There is no
substitute for continued, active American leadership,” Daley declared. “That’s
why even in the face of very difficult challenges he [Obama] remains committed
to a comprehensive peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.”
making his first appearance before a Jewish organization since becoming chief of
staff in January, also reiterated American determination to prevent Iran from
obtaining nuclear weapons as well as commitment to the US-Israel
“The president’s support for Israel’s security has been and
will be unshakable,” he told the AJC Global Forum.
The administration was
still seeking information on the terms of the reconciliation agreement announced
by Fatah and Hamas on Wednesday, and such details would inform US policy going
forward, Daley said.
Members of Congress, however, are not waiting to
express their strong reservations about the agreement. Many representatives
involved with authorizing funding for the Palestinian Authority have warned that
the recent move could jeopardize US funds.
Reps. Kay Granger (R-Texas)
and Nita Lowey (D-New York), the chairwoman and ranking member, respectively, of
the House foreign operations appropriations subcommittee, on Thursday sent a
letter to the Palestinians outlining their “serious concerns.”
current courses of action undermine the purposes and threaten the provision of
United States assistance and support,” they wrote to PA President Mahmoud Abbas,
reminding him that the aid was predicated on the Palestinians pursuing peace
with Israel and that US money was forbidden to flow to Hamas.
ability to support current and future aid would be severely threatened if you
abandon direct negotiations with Israel and continue with your current efforts,”
“The Palestinian Authority has chosen an alliance with
violence and extremism over the democratic values that Israel represents,” a
bipartisan group of US lawmakers said on Thursday after a meeting in Tel Aviv
with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The legislators were reacting to
the Palestinian unity deal initialed last week that could imperil hundreds of
millions of dollars in US aid if it gives a prominent role to Hamas in the
Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Washington warned that US
funding could not flow to a government that included a group on the US list of
foreign terrorist organizations.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (RFlorida), the
powerful Republican chairwoman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs
Committee and a staunch defender of Israel, said US law required a halt to
support for the PA.
“US taxpayer funds should not and must not be used to
support those who threaten US security, our interests and our vital ally,
Israel,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement.
Lowey said any Palestinian
unity deal with an unreformed Hamas “will be a death blow to the peace
The United States has given an average of about $400 million
per year to the PA headed by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, much of it aimed at
strengthening governance and security in preparation for eventual
Total US assistance since 1994 has topped $3.5
A Congressional Research Service report last year said a
potential unity government could drop the development and reform objectives set
by the Fayyad administration, which are used as major justifications for current
US aid levels.Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.