In the aftermath of the establishment of a new Palestinian unity government and reactions to it by the United States, European Union, Israel and others, and as Congress considers its reaction, David T. Brown, Chairman, and Steven B. Nasatir, President, of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, have issued the following statement:
We are greatly concerned at the formation of the Palestinian unity government. The inclusion of Hamas at any level of a Palestinian government undermines the goal of the United States and Israel for a negotiated settlement to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, a goal this Federation has long supported.
Israel has consistently proven its willingness to engage in serious negotiations and has done so several times since the beginning of the Oslo process. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 so that the Palestinians could establish full governance over that territory. The result was not peace but rather thousands of deadly Hamas rockets being launched into Israel targeting innocent Israeli civilians, as Hamas made it clear that it remained a terrorist organization whose primary purpose is the destruction of the State of Israel.
Current U.S. law states that no taxpayer funds can be provided to a Palestinian government in which Hamas or other terrorist groups participate or has undue influence. Further, the Quartet (the U.S., European Union, United Nations and Russia), shortly after the Hamas election victory in January of 2007, proclaimed there would be no dealing with the group unless it recognized Israel, renounced terrorism and agreed to abide by understandings already made between Israel and the Palestinians. Hamas, still classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government and many others, has not agreed to any of those conditions, and their official charter still calls for “the obliteration or dissolution of Israel.”
The empowering of Hamas as an acceptable partner in Palestinian governance, without its acceptance and adherence to the Quartet’s longstanding principles, is detrimental to a just resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. We, therefore, urge Congress to conduct a thorough review of the new Palestinian unity government to ensure its makeup does not violate, in letter or spirit, current U.S. law, and then to proceed in accordance with that law and longstanding U.S. policy.