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Lawmakers: PA risks US aid freeze if Hamas joins government
Published Tuesday 29/04/2014 (updated) 01/05/2014 12:47
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Palestinian children look at militants from the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine during a parade in Khan Yunis in the southern
Gaza Strip on April 29, 2014 (AFP/Said Khatib)
WASHINGTON (AFP) -- Palestinian leaders risk forfeiting millions of dollars in US aid if they press ahead with plans to form a unity government including Hamas members, US lawmakers and officials warned Tuesday.

"Let me be utterly clear about our policy towards Hamas," Assistant Secretary for the Near East Anne Patterson told a House hearing.

"No US governmental money will go into any government that includes Hamas until Hamas accepts the Quartet conditions. And that's renouncing violence, recognizing previous agreements and most explicitly recognizing Israel's right to exist."

In a surprise deal Palestinian leaders from the West Bank and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip last week agreed to work together after years of bitter rivalry.

But the move has been denounced by Israel which has cancelled its participation in the peace talks. The deadline to achieve a deal expired Tuesday with US Secretary of State John Kerry's intensive months-long efforts in tatters.

In an address to PLO leaders on Saturday, President Mahmoud Abbas said the new government, which will be made up of political independents, would recognize Israel, reject violence and abide by existing agreements.

Under Wednesday's PLO-Hamas accord, Abbas would head an "independent government" of technocrats, to be formed within five weeks.

That new interim administration would be charged with holding parliamentary and presidential elections within six months of taking office.

"Let me be clear: No Palestinian government that includes terrorist members of Hamas can or will receive US funding," Rep. Ted Deutch told the hearing into the 2015 budget priorities for the Middle East and North Africa.

Subcommittee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said the Palestinian reconciliation deal had "major implications" for the fiscal year 2015 budget, which begins in October.

The administration was "seeking over $440 million in direct bilateral assistance for the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank and Gaza," she said.

But US law is clear that "it cannot send funds to a Palestinian government that includes members of the terrorist group Hamas."

Hamas has been blacklisted by the US since 1993 as a terrorist organization.

But Patterson said that Abbas and the leadership of Hamas "hate each other."

"There is some thought that one way to get rid of Hamas is to hold an election because that's how they entered the political process and that's how Abu Mazen, President Abbas, should get rid of them."

She recalled though that previous reconciliation attempts had failed and stressed "the Palestinian Authority needs our support."
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1 ) Mark / USA
29/04/2014 23:11
America has become a joke! I hope Palestine tells Washington to stick their dollars where the sun don't shine!

2 ) jesse / usa
29/04/2014 23:20
If you want money from other people or governments who don't have to give anything at all. you should consider the fact they may have some demands.

3 ) Tibi / Tubas
29/04/2014 23:35
The Lawmakers should know that it is more a CERTAINTY, than a risk of a US aid freeze if Hamas joins government !!

4 ) Julie / USA
30/04/2014 00:11
STOP the US supply of billions of aid to the apartheid izraeli govt which includes and protects zionist terrorists far more dangerous and deadly than hamas. hypocrites!

5 ) john briant / uk
30/04/2014 00:40
who cares? Iran will make up the shortfall in cash.

6 ) d'Arc / USA
30/04/2014 01:41
Being rid of US aid is better for Palestinians. US aid has strings. The strings tie Palestinians to Israel. All the expenses paid by US aid are those Israel would have to pick up if there were no PA. With a PA receiving aid, Israel has little to no incentive to end control of Palestinians because the PA, with aid, is paying the cost of government and control of the Palestinian population.

7 ) LOL IT IS ALL ABOUT $$$$$$ / SO IT WAS
30/04/2014 06:35
WITH ARAFAT AND THE REST OF THE PLO MONEY!!

8 ) Robby / USA
30/04/2014 06:38
Good, maybe we can cut off the UNRWA as well.

9 ) As Long as OBAMA is President / the money will come
30/04/2014 09:35
what happens next election-- is a riddle but everything is about MONEY

10 ) AKeenReader / UK
30/04/2014 11:33
These US lawmakers keep tightlipped when it concerns Israel but are quick to withhold aid when it comes to Palestinians. I sometimes wonder whether Israel is US's 51st State in a covert way?????

11 ) Outlier / USA
06/05/2014 00:04
PA cannot afford to lose US aid. Expect loud reassurance from the PA - based on nothing other than hope - that there is no risk from Hamas in a unity government. However, if cheap talk is not accompanied by expensive action to back it up, expect the PA to have even bigger money problems as US aid diminishes.
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