U.S. threatens to halt aid to Palestinians if unity government formed with Hamas
Fatah and Hamas members met in Gaza City last week to broker the unity government deal (Ahmed Shaat/Hamas Prime Minister Officer/AFP)
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The Palestinian authority may lose its U.S. aid funding if they continue plans to form a unity government with Hamas, according to Agence France Presse.
"Let me be utterly clear about our policy towards Hamas. 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," U.S. Assistant Secretary for the Near East Anne Patterson told a House hearing Tuesday.
"Let me be clear: No Palestinian government that includes terrorist members of Hamas can or will receive U.S. funding," Rep. Ted Deutch added during a hearing about the 2015 budget priorities for the Middle East and North Africa.
According to one U.S. official, the administration is seeking more than $440 million in direct bilateral assistance for the Palestinian Authority, West Bank and Gaza, but it will not-and cannot under law-send funds to a government that is linked with Hamas, which has been considered a terrorist organization under U.S. law since 1993.
"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," added Patterson in her commentary.
The discussions follow the West Bank-based PLO's decision last week to form a unity government with Gaza-based Hamas following a rift in relations since 2006. The move towards the unity government comes largely in response to crumbling peace talks between the PLO and Israel as well as the growth of dire living and economic conditions in the Palestinian territories more generally. According to the accord, Abbas would head the new unity government, that is set to be formed within the next five weeks.
The administration would then be responsible for organizing proper parliamentary and presidential elections within a six month time period.