Since 1990, the United States Government has committed $5 billion in bi-lateral assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) who continue to be the largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid.
In 2006, Hamas, a terrorist organization, participated and won a majority in the Palestinian parliament, and as a result, the Palestinian Authority (PA) formed a coalition government with Hamas. Mahmoud Abbas claimed the presidency and Ismail Haniya, a member of Hamas, became the prime minister. However, there was fighting between the two factions over a failed deal to share government power, and over 600 Palestinians were killed. As a result, the government coalition split leaving Haniya, (Hamas) in control of the Gaza Strip, and Abbas (PA) the West Bank.
Who is Hamas? They were established in 1987 and their origins begin in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. What do they stand for? In 2006, The New York Times reported on the Hamas Charter which includes, but is not limited to the following items,
- Hamas’ goal is Jihad and the death of Jews.
- All Muslims are duty bound to commit jihad against Israel
- Peace is not an option
- Women must train their children to become Jihad fighters
- Hamas cares about human right and religious toleration provided all other religions live in the shadow of Islam.
In 2014, the two groups, again, decided to join forces which resulted in the halting of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Because of the creation of this new coalition government between Hamas and the Palestinians, Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, responded by saying,
“So instead of moving into peace with Israel, he (Abbas) is moving into peace with Hamas. He has to choose. Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel. You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace; so far he hasn’t done so.”
Should the United States continue its financial support of the Palestinian Authority? More importantly, is it in line with the letter of United States law?
In a report for the Congressional Research Service, prepared by Jim Sanotti, Specialist in Middle Eastern affairs, there are three U.S. policies that dictate the reason for the financial support to the Palestinians from the United States:
- Preventing terrorism against Israel from Hamas and other militant organizations.
- Fostering stability, prosperity and self-governance in the West Bank that inclines Palestinians- including those in the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip- toward peaceful coexistence with Israel and a “two-state solution.”
- Meeting humanitarian needs
Additionally, the Congressional Research Service states there are restrictions on the United States offering aid to Palestinians, which includes, but it not limited to the following:
- No aid is permitted for Hamas or Hamas controlled entities.
- No aid is permitted for a power-sharing PA government that includes Hamas as a member or that results from an agreement over which Hamas exercises “undue influence” unless they have accepted the following 2 principles. 1. recognition of the “Jewish state of Israel’s right to exist” and 2. acceptance of previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
The United States has identified Hamas as a “Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization” in October of 1997. At the website for the U.S. Department of State, there is a list of the current foreign organizations that have been classified as “terrorists.” In order for the State Department to classify a group as terrorist, they must meet the Legal Criteria for Designation:
- It must be a foreign organization
- It must engage in terrorist activity or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism.
- The organization’s terrorist activity must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security of the United States.
Congress and members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee have raised concerns about continued U.S. financial support to the Palestinian Authority. However, even with the restrictions and definitions required by the rule of law, President Obama has stated that he will continue offering U.S. financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority, even though they have formed a coalition government with Hamas, which clearly is in direct conflict with the rule of law. Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee made the following statements:
“The administration is not demanding that [Abbas] return to the negotiation table with Israel without preconditions nor that he stops his unilateral statehood scheme at the U.N.”
“If the PA refuses to go back to the negotiation table with Israel and will not recognize a two state solution, why does the United States continue to offer financial aid to the Palestinians/Hamas?”
“The administration also says we need to help rebuild the Palestinian economy at a time when our economy is facing serious challenges and Americans are suffering.”
How much does the United States currently give in financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority? In 2014, the United States offered approximately $440 million in assistance to the Palestinians and an additional $200 million annually through the U.N Relief and Works Agency, (UNRWA). Congress has raised concerns in regards to the UNRWA noting that funds might be used to support terrorists. UNRWA claims it screens staff and contractors every 6 months for terrorist ties to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, however, their screening does not include Hamas, Hezbollah or other terrorist groups in the area.
Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netenyahu spoke out in a speech made to the UN in 2014,
“Last week, many of the countries represented here rightly applauded President Obama for leading the effort to confront ISIS. And yet weeks before, some of these same countries, the same countries that now support confronting ISIS, opposed Israel for confronting Hamas. They evidently don’t understand that ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree.”
“…… they all share a fanatic ideology. They all seek to create ever-expanding enclaves of militant Islam where there is no freedom and no tolerance – Where women are treated as chattel, Christians are decimated, and minorities are subjugated, sometimes given the stark choice: convert or die. For them, anyone can be an infidel, including fellow Muslims.”
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is deep in negotiations with Iran and their president, Haassan Rouhani, in assisting in the fight with ISIS. However, what will we need to concede in order to obtain their support, and do we really want to make a deal with the devil? Iran is a supporter of terrorism and is currently helping Syria’s Assad in the slaughter of rebels, gays, and Christians and has also threatened to wipe Israel and Jews off the map. Are these really the people we want to climb into bed beside?
President Obama wants to loosen sanctions against Iran in exchange for their promise not to develop Nuclear weapons. A November 24 deadline is looming for Iran and the P5+1 group (U.S. , France, China, Britain, Russia and Germany) to discuss whether Iran will be allowed to continue to enrich uranium in defiance of U.N Security Council resolutions. President Rouhani has said that Iran will not “surrender” on the question of enrichment. In response to Obama, over 30 Republican senators sent a letter to John Kerry, Secretary of State saying,
“We have learned that the United States and its P5+1 negotiating partners may now be offering troubling nuclear concessions to Iran in the hopes of rapidly concluding negotiations for a ‘deal.’ Given that a nuclear Iran poses the greatest long-term threat to the security of the United States, Israel and other allies, we are gravely concerned about the possibility of any new agreement that, in return for further relief of U.S. led international sanctions, would allow Iran to produce explosive nuclear material.”
In August of this year, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani said,
Iran supports the brave resistance of great and patient Palestinians and Gazan people.” Muslims in Gaza stood firm in the face of blood thirsty Zionists’ bombs and missiles and emerged victorious. Iran always stands by Palestine, Iraq and Syria. The Iranian nation will take the next steps with more power. The world knows that threats and sanctions against this great nation will have no effect.”
In his speech to the UN, Netanyahu further said,
“To defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war.”
President Obama could learn something from him!!