Congress links U.S. Palestinian aid to electoral ban on Hamas

Special to World Tribune
Tuesday, December 20, 2005

WASHINGTON The House of Representatives has linked U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority to a ban on Hamas participation in legislative elections next month.

The House voted 397-17 to approve a resolution that would link future aid to the PA to the exclusion of Hamas from the Palestinian Legislative Council elections. Elections take place on Jan. 25, and Hamas was expected to win up to half of the 88-seat PLC.

"Terrorist organizations such as Hamas should not be permitted to participate in Palestinian elections until such organizations recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, cease incitement, condemn terrorism, and permanently disarm and dismantle their terrorists infrastructure," the resolution said.

The resolution, passed on Dec. 16, warned that Hamas participation in the PA would "potentially undermine the ability of the United States to have a constructive relationship with or provide further assistance to the Palestinian Authority."

The United States has been the largest donor to the Palestinians, with more than $1.7 billion since 1994. In 2005, the Bush administration approved about $200 million to the PA.

The House resolution also urged the PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to halt Palestinian insurgency groups. The resolution called on Abbas to release a timetable to dismantle the organizations.

"These terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, operate virtually without interference from the Palestinian Authority," the resolution said. "Since the withdrawal of Israeli military forces, the Palestinian Authority has taken few steps to establish rule of law in Gaza."

The resolution said Hamas could eventually enter the Palestinian political process. But the House demanded that Hamas first disarm and agree to recognize Israel.

"When terrorist militias participate in elections, voters are intimidated," Rep. Tom Lantos, the leading Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, said. "The concepts of the will of the majority and the rights of the minority are rendered meaningless."

Copyright 2005 East West Services, Inc.

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts

Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives