In stark contrast to partisan wrangling over the budget and women’s rights, Democrats and Republicans are lining up to demand the cut-off of U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority as a response to the reported unity deal between Hamas and Fatah. Expect the Obama administration to take heed and agree with Congress–especially with the 2012 elections approaching.
The rhetoric from both sides of the aisle is uniform. It’s the Israel lobby’s line. It’s telling, for example, that a staunch Republican and neoconservative pro-Israel hawk like Jennifer Rubin would approvingly quote an otherwise reliable liberal like Representative Gary Ackerman, a Democrat from New York:
The purported deal, which does not require Hamas to accept Israel’s right to exist, or the binding nature of prior Palestinian commitments, or even to require Hamas to temporarily forgo violence against Israel (as if it were some kind barbaric of addiction, or compulsion), is a recipe for failure, mixed with violence, leading to disaster. It is a ghastly mistake that I fear will be paid for in the lives of innocent Israelis.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, similarly said:
The reported agreement between Fatah and Hamas means that a Foreign Terrorist Organization which has called for the destruction of Israel will be part of the Palestinian Authority government. U.S. taxpayer funds should not and must not be used to support those who threaten U.S. security, our interests, and our vital ally, Israel.
Interestingly, though, there are some, if not many, analysts and activists in solidarity with the Palestinian cause that will be happy with a cut off of U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority (for different reasons than Congress). U.S. aid, which has gone to train the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, has contributed deeply to the split between Hamas and Fatah.
As Ali Abunimah noted for the Electronic Intifada, “in The Palestine Papers, the main concern of Ramallah officials was always to maintain Western financial aid to the PA, and not to make any agreement with Hamas that would jeopardize American and European financing for the PA.” The Western financial aid has been used to crack down on Hamas. But if U.S. and European aid is cut off, perhaps the Palestinian Authority would no longer imprison Hamas members and quash dissent. That would go a long away towards true Palestinian unity.