US lawmakers say Hamas-Fatah unity gov't threatens aid

New York Reps. Ackerman and Lowey say PA cooperation with "bloody-handed terrorist theocrats" may lead the US to withhold funding.

311_US rep Gary Ackerman (photo credit: Bloomberg)
311_US rep Gary Ackerman
(photo credit: Bloomberg)
Lawmakers in the US responded overnight Wednesday to news that Hamas and Fatah have formed a unity government by threatening to withhold aid to Gaza.
US Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), the top Democrat serving on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, released a statement saying that the deal, which does not require Hamas to recognize Israel, "is a recipe for failure, mixed with violence, leading to disaster."
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"It is a ghastly mistake that I fear will be paid for in the lives of innocent Israelis," Ackerman said.
"Rather than seizing the dynamic of this amazing Arab Spring to simply push for national elections and constitutional reform, the leadership of the Palestinian Authority has once again naively decided to test the trustworthiness of a bloody-handed bunch of terrorist want-to-be theocrats," Ackerman added, explaining that the Palestinians can not "have peace and this so-called 'resistance' (also known in English as terrorism)."
The US is legally required to withhold aid that could be used by terrorists, including Hamas. "In the current political climate, even assistance that would otherwise have gone to parts of the Palestinian Authority untainted by terrorism may no longer be salvageable," Ackerman said.
Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), the highest ranking Democrat serving on the House Foreign Aid subcommittee, said in a statement Wednesday that the US has provided aid to the PA "to build government institutions, strengthen security forces, and promote economic development," which is "predicated on the PA’s commitment to pursuing efforts to establish peace with Israel."
"A unity government with Hamas would put US assistance and support at risk, based on restrictions I authored as Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations," Lowey said.
According to the New York Congresswoman, a Hamas-Fatah unity government "will be a deathblow to the peace process," unless Hamas accepts the terms of the Quartet.
“I strongly urge the leadership of the Palestinian Authority to reconsider forming a unity government with Hamas and to instead return to negotiations with Israel, which are the only hope for a peaceful, stable, and prosperous future for both Israelis and Palestinians,” Lowey added.
In 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress that the US would not cooperate with the Palestinian Authority if it incorporated Hamas.
"We will not deal with, nor in any way fund, a Palestinian government that includes Hamas unless and until Hamas has renounced violence, recognized Israel and agreed to follow the previous obligations of the Palestinian Authority," she said.