Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday hinted to a visiting delegation of U.S. Congress members that Washington should consider halting aid to the Palestinian Authority if the new Hamas-Fatah unity government does not recognize Israel and renounce terror. “Israel would not recognize any government in the world that included members from al-Qaeda,” Netanyahu said.
So far, the Obama administration has failed to specifically state the policy it would support if and when the new Palestinian unity government is formed. In an emailed statement yesterday, the State Department did not rule out continuing aid to the Palestinian Authority even if Hamas is incorporated. “The current Palestinian government remains in place and our assistance programs continue,” State Department spokeswoman Heide Bronke-Fulton said. “If a new Palestinian government is formed, we will assess it based on its policies at that time and will determine the implications for our assistance based on U.S. law.”
Palestinians in Gaza wave flags and chant slogans in support of a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.
Why is the Obama administration remaining so vague? How difficult is it to say that the United States does not support terrorist organizations, and would therefore cut funding to the Palestinian Authority if Hamas is a part of it? After all that is U.S. law, which conditions U.S. aid to Palestinians on the requirement that the recipients renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.
The reason why the Obama administration has failed to clearly outline U.S. policy when it comes to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas’ potential involvement is anyone’s guess. In doing so, however, the White House again appears weak and uncertain when it comes to formulating an effective and forward-leaning Middle East policy framework.