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Right Turn
Posted at 08:30 AM ET, 06/14/2011

Aiding terrorists

House foreign affairs committee chairwoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen wants to crack down on U.S. aid that makes its way to terrorist groups. She released this statement on Monday:

For years, Members of Congress warned that it was unwise to fund a Lebanese government in which Hezbollah participated. It was clear that Hezbollah’s influence was growing, and that the Executive Branch had no long-term strategy to deal with that reality, and no contingency plan to stop U.S. aid from falling into the wrong hands.

Even when the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis toppled the Lebanese government in January and it was clear the next one would be Hezbollah-controlled, the Administration kept the aid pipeline flowing.

Now, Hezbollah and its cohorts will control the Lebanese government and likely benefit from the years of U.S. assistance, including to the Lebanese military. We cannot undo past mistakes, but we can learn from them and safeguard taxpayer dollars going forward. The U.S. should immediately cut off assistance to the Lebanese government as long as any violent extremist group designated by the U.S. as foreign terrorist organizations participates in it.

The U.S. should likewise stop funding the Palestinian Authority, where Hamas appears to be following in Hezbollah’s footsteps. By vetoing Fatah’s nominee for PA prime minister, Hamas has demonstrated that it will wield de facto control over the Palestinian Authority.

It is time for U.S. assistance to truly advance our interests, rather than benefit the likes of Hezbollah, Hamas, and their partners.”

It is no coincidence that this statement was issued after a conference call between the administration and Jewish leaders (and the reports that followed) in which the White House made clear that President Obama was making a full court press to have Israel sit down with the Mahmoud Abbas, even while his co-partner in the unity government refuses to accept the Quartet principles. I have no doubt that Congress would overwhelmingly pass a measure to block aid to the Lebanese government and the Palestinian Authority. Would Obama veto it? Now that would be an interesting political moment.

Meawhile, it is still unclear what government Israel is supposed to be sitting down with. The New York Times reports on the fissures already appearing in the unity government:

This weekend the Fatah Central Committee, the party’s main decision-making body, endorsed Salam Fayyad, the current Palestinian Authority prime minister, as their top candidate to lead the interim government. An American-trained economist, Mr. Fayyad is an internationally accepted figure who has gained the confidence of the West.

But Hamas has already rejected Mr. Fayyad’s nomination, saying that the new prime minister should come from Gaza.

“For us, Fayyad is unacceptable because his name is connected with a black phase in the history of the Palestinian people,” said Taher al-Nounou, a Hamas official in Gaza, who blamed Mr. Fayyad for deepening the split, closing Hamas institutions in the West Bank and pursuing security cooperation with Israel.

Both Fatah and Hamas figures said they thought the issue would not be solved in this next round of talks. “There is no deadline,” said Muhammad Shtayyeh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, speaking by phone from Ramallah in the West Bank. “We will try to finish things in this round, but I think it will take longer.”

Mr. Shtayyeh foresaw more problems in other appointments, like the minister of interior, who has responsibility for the security forces. He and others said these details would ultimately have to be resolved by Mr. Abbas and Khaled Meshal, the Damascus-based leader of Hamas.

Still, Palestinian analysts suggest that the problems may run much deeper.

“I am worried,” said Mahdi Abdul Hadi, director of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, an independent institute in East Jerusalem, and one of a group of independent Palestinians who encouraged the unity accord.

“It is not a question of appointing a prime minister, but of the political will to share power. I do not see it,” he said.

So whom, exactly, is Israel supposed to negotiate with, and who has authority to speak for the Palestinians?

President Obama is trading away Israel’s borders (start at 1967 and see if it can trade for more) without demanding that the Palestinians give up anything (other than their United Nations gambit, which itself is a violation of past Palestinian commitments). Obama, meanwhile, has presided over the collapse of the peace process, received a threat from the Saudis, had to rebuff the French from taking the lead in negotiations, and has prompted Congress to intervene in an effort to protect a democratic ally.

His spinners on the left insist everything is perfectly fine. Well, then why all the damage control conversations and the spin-offensive to calm the nerves of the Jewish community? The left has abandoned defending Obama and shifted to denying his policy has done any harm to his electoral chances. Is this an administration pro-Israel Democrats are proud of?

By  |  08:30 AM ET, 06/14/2011

Categories:  American Jews, Israel

 
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