Friday, August 21, 2009

US Congress Should Cut Off Aid To Palestinians

NOTE: The following piece was first published as part of this week's Jerusalem Post Submission Contest earlier today. You can rate and vote on this piece here.

When the Bush administration laid out the Roadmap peace plan it, together with the United Nations, Russia, and the European Union, clearly laid out three conditions that Hamas would have to meet to be included:
  1. Recognition of Israel
  2. Renunciation of terrorism and violence
  3. Acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap
Hamas has never accepted any of the Quartet's conditions and, as a result, remains classified strictly as a terrorist group by the United States and most of the West.

Further attempts at a peace process were based on the idea that the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority did meet this conditions and had, in fact, agreed to them as part of the Oslo Accords. This has also been the basis of all U.S. aid to the Palestinians, including the training and arming of security forces.

Since March of this year we have seen one senior Palestinian Authority official after another make clear, in no uncertain terms, that they don't accept any of the three conditions either. It started with Muhammed Dahlan, a former Palestinian security chief and senior Fatah official, during a March 17 interview on Palestinian television:
"I want to say for the thousandth time, in my own name and in the name of all of my fellow members of the Fatah movement: We do not demand that the Hamas movement recognize Israel. On the contrary, we demand of the Hamas movement not to recognize Israel, because the Fatah movement does not recognize Israel even today."

Rafik Natsheh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee who also serves as chairman of the faction's disciplinary "court," expanded on Dahlan's comments during an interview with Al-Quds Al-Arabi last month. He stated that Fatah has never recognized Israel's right to exist and it has no intention of ever doing so, effectively closing the door to any future peace agreement. He also made clear that Fatah intends to launch a new intifada or "armed struggle."
"All these reports about recognizing Israel are false. It's all media nonsense. We don't ask other factions to recognize Israel because we in Fatah have never recognized Israel.


I am certain that we will hinder all the traitors who wish to remove the resistance option from the movement's charter. Let all the collaborators [with Israel] and those who are deluding themselves hear that this will never happen."

Finally, at the sixth Fatah General Assembly earlier this month these positions were formalized and reiterated by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In effect the Palestinians have abrogated the Oslo peace agreement signed by Yasser Arafat. The Fatah-run Palestinian authority no longer meets any of the three conditions placed on Hamas. Why, then, is Fatah still somehow defined as "moderate" and treated differently than Hamas?

Back in December, 2007 I wrote that absent a recognition of Israel's right to exist as defined by both the League of Nations Mandate and by the United Nations in Resolution 181, which means as a state for the Jewish people, there was no basis for any negotiations with the Palestinians. Now, nearly two years later the Netanyahu government has made clear that it is ready for negotiations without any preconditions. The Palestinians, emboldened by President Obama's shortsighted and ill advised pressure on Israel over settlements, are demanding unilateral concessions from Israel before even agreeing to sit down and talk. Rather than bring Israel and the Palestinians closer to peace the Obama administration has foreclosed any chance of meaningful negotiations.

Right now the American taxpayer is footing the bill for arming and training security forces aligned with or which are part of Fatah, even as Fatah makes clear that those arms will be turned on Israel. We are, in effect, arming one terrorist faction while snubbing another. We are doing so in a time of huge budget deficits. Does this make any sort of sense?

In the United States the President determines foreign policy. However, that power is not absolute. The U.S. Constitution put in place a system of checks and balances. Congress controls the purse strings. Israel enjoys overwhelming support in Congress from both political parties. It is time that Congress acts to cut off all aid to the Palestinians until they meet the three clear conditions set out by the international Quartet. Doing so will stop the arming of unrepentant and unreformed Palestinian terrorists who seek to destroy Israel and send a strong and unequivocal message to President Obama that his Middle East policies, which are increasingly seen as pro-Arab and anti-Israel, have little or no support.

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