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
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.