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Friday, June 24, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Senate Republicans urge Obama to suspend aid
to Palestinian Authority

WASHINGTON — Congress has been mobilizing opposition against U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority.


Republicans in the Senate have been expressing increasing opposition to U.S. security and other aid to the PA in wake of the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas. A letter sent by 16 Republicans in the Senate said the Fatah-Hamas agreement for a national unity government must not be financed by Washington.

"As long as Hamas remains involved in the PA, we cannot imagine how such a coalition can meet the most basic requirements of U.S. law or the Quartet conditions," the letter by the Republicans said. "We therefore urge you to immediately suspend U.S. taxpayer assistance to the PA unless and until it can be certified that a new government and all its ministers recognize the Jewish state of Israel's right to exist in peace and security, accept and adhere to all previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements, and renounce all forms of terrorism and anti-Israel violence."

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The letter was organized by Sen. John Boozman and Sen. Jerry Moran and sent to President Barack Obama on June 22. Many of the signers were deemed members of the Republican leadership in the Senate.

"It must never be forgotten that Israel's security is both the starting point and the goal of any peace process that the U.S. seeks to facilitate," the letter to Obama said. "The presence of Hamas within the PA, and the possible future presence within the Palestine Liberation Organization, as much as the desire by Fatah to seek an accord with Hamas over peace with Israel, is a fatal blow to the foundations of this process, both in terms of the trust needed for Israel to negotiate and in terms of the statutory limitations on U.S. taxpayer assistance to the PA."

The United States provides the PA with nearly $600 million in annual aid, about a quarter of which was allocated to the Palestinian security forces.

In May, Obama acknowledged that the Fatah-Hamas agreement "raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel," but urged the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to approve a U.S. plan for a unilateral Palestinian state in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The letter said U.S. law bans federal assistance to a PA government that includes Hamas. The Republicans said the exception would be if a Fatah-Hamas government, including all of its ministers, recognizes Israel's right to exist and accepts all Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

"Similarly, the Quartet, comprised of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia, will not deal with Hamas unless and until it accepts Israel's right to exist, commits itself to all previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements, and renounces terrorism," the letter said.

The letter was sent to Obama as his envoys were seeking to recruit support for a Palestinian state without a full peace agreement with Israel. The White House envoys, David Hale and Dennis Ross, met Israeli, PA and Egyptian leaders in late June.

"Our goal in this effort is to work with the parties toward negotiations on the basis of the president's remarks," a senior administration official told a briefing on June 21. "We’re consulting the parties, the Quartet, Arab officials and other supporters on the best way to proceed."

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