Financing the Flames
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|Martin Barillas||April 24th 2014|
from Reuters and agencies
Angry Administration officials and lawmakers are warning they will reconsider financial assistance to the Palestinians if Islamist group Hamas and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) form a unity government, according to a senior U.S. administration official.
"Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties," the official said, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity.
"If a new Palestinian government is formed, we will assess it based on its adherence to the stipulations above, its policies and actions, and will determine any implications for our assistance based on U.S. law," the official said.
Gaza-based Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization announced "a unity pact" on Wednesday, further unravelling U.S.-brokered peace talks with Israel. This reunification move calls for a unity government within five weeks and national elections six months later. However, providing U.S. aid to a unity government that includes Hamas would be assistance to a group the United States lists as a terrorist organisation. That would be illegal.
Author Edwin Black, in his recent book Financing the Flames, has documented that American taxpayers are already making illegal payments to the Palestinian Authority "because some 16 percent of the PA budget goes directly to compensating and making financial payments to admitted Palestinian terrorists as a reward for their acts or murder against civilians." Black added, "It is now becoming crystal clear that America's annual half-billion dollar stipend to the Palestinians is not promoting peace and reconcilation--but doing the exact opposite. Moreover, it is all being done in brilliant contravention of existing U.S. law. Some in Congress indicate they are taking the blinders off. The world is rife with conflict--the Ukraine, North Korea, the Pacific Rim, Syria. If Hamas and the PLO reunite, then we have gone backwards."
Black added, "Peace no longer will be at hand. It will be handed off."
Reuters reported both the United States and Israel greeted the announcement of the unity pact with dismay. Israel cancelled a session of talks with the Palestinians that had been scheduled for Wednesday and the State Department said the move could derail peace efforts. "We are following reports of Palestinian reconciliation efforts," the U.S. official who spoke on Thursday said. "We have been clear about the principles that must guide a Palestinian government in order for it to play a constructive role in achieving peace and building an independent Palestinian state.