House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), the chief deputy whip, have a piece in Politico today calling for an end to taxpayer funding of a unity Palestinian government that now includes a terrorist organization. They write:
As President Obama draws national attention to the Middle East with a major speech on Thursday, we ask our fellow lawmakers — and all Americans — the following questions: Does [Hamas] seem like a group with whom Israel can make peace? Would you trust this organization to have free rein in your own backyard? Is this group deserving of $550 million in annual foreign aid from cash-strapped U.S. taxpayers?
These are questions the United States must now address, since Hamas — which controls the Gaza Strip — this month officially joined the Palestinian Authority in a unity government. The Palestinian Authority plans to unilaterally declare a state at the United Nations meeting in September.
With this agreement, it has made an unequivocal decision that its route to a potential state cannot include peace with Israel. Nor will it include negotiations with Israel; a disavowal of and crackdown on terrorism, or any official recognition of the Jewish state — a set of conditions demanded by the United States and its allies, but fiercely opposed by Hamas. What a slap in the face to the Obama administration.
For reasons that have more to do with the administration’s aversion to drawing lines and its phobia about being at odds with the countries that populate the U.N., the Obama administration has not yet publicly delivered a forthright message to the Palestinians. The administration has said that Hamas needs to renounce terror, recognize the Jewish state, and abide by past agreements (not even Abbas is willing to do that now) in keeping with the Quartet’s conditions. But Obama has yet to say what will happen if Hamas doesn’t do this. He’s not delivered an unequivocal statement that the unity government and Abbas’s renunciation of past agreements are unacceptable. In short, the PA should be identified as an international lawbreaker, not rewarded with statehood.
The lawmakers advise, “Don’t be fooled by Hamas apologists in the West — who refuse to accept Hamas at its word. Let us not blind ourselves to Hamas’ genocidal outlook. This reconciliation does not mean that Hamas will moderate itself. It means that the Palestinian Authority is dealing a death blow to a troubled peace process, in which the PA has seldom demonstrated the courage to engage.” It is hard to imagine that even the Obama administration fails to appreciate this.
As with Iran sanctions, it is Congress that seems to be leading, while the administration is dragged along. No doubt the administration is nervous that the British and the French won’t cut off the Palestinians. But shouldn’t Obama be reminding them, the rest of Europe and the membership of the U.N. that the Hamas reconciliation and the renunciation of past agreements make recognition anathema to all people of good will? Maybe the Brits think there is mileage to be gained by recognizing a Palestinian state in contravention of decades of international agreements, but does Britain really want to put the stamp of legitimacy on a terrorist state?
The president has a speech tomorrow, a meeting with Bibi Netanyahu the next day and an appearance at AIPAC on Sunday. He has a choice: a clear message of support for the Jewish state or mush. I hope it’s the former, but you can’t go wrong betting on Obama mush.