Twenty-seven Democratic senators sent a letter to President Obama on Saturday, urging him to support aid cuts to the Palestinian Authority if Fatah continues to pursue a unity government with Hamas.
Nearly sixty percent of the Democrats in the Senate, then, vocally support a suspension of aid. The pressure on the Obama administration to take a stronger stance against the unity government will only increase. It is already illegal for the U.S. to send aid to any Palestinian government that includes Hamas, but the senators, led by Robert P. Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, say that Obama needs to make the PA aware of these consequences.
“It is imperative for you to make clear to President Abbas that Palestinian Authority participation in a unity government with an unreformed Hamas will jeopardize its relationship with the United States, including its receipt of U.S. aid,” their letter read. “We urge you to conduct a review of the current situation and suspend aid should Hamas refuse to comply with Quartet conditions.”
The Obama administration has hinted that it won’t work with the unity government unless Hamas accepts the Quartet principles, including Israel’s right to exist. But it hasn’t explicitly outlined the consequences the PA would face, and says it is still reviewing the unity deal.
The result has been some confusion, with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal saying during an interview with Reuters over the weekend that the U.S. position on the unity government was unclear. “The international position, especially that of the Europeans and the Americans, is still unclear, but we hope they respect our will and decision,” Meshaal said.
Meshaal also reiterated his support for terrorism, and said that Hamas would only decide whether to accept Israel’s right to exist after a Palestinian state is formed. So if the Obama administration is still waiting to see if Hamas is going to change its positions, it sounds as if the answer has already been given.